It is not unknown for people to be scared of dogs. Animal shelters throughout history were built on that fear. Dog catchers were employed to capture packs of nuisance dogs that were roaming and pestering communities. Pounds were built on the edge of towns near the dump to remove stray dogs from towns and in most cases, destroy them to prevent public endangerment.
Fast forward to now and shelters are referred to as centers, instead of strays we say adoptable, we don’t say animals we say pets, and dogs are family members. Getting a dog without a home into a family is a community effort and #adoptdontshop is a movement.
So how strange it is that the COVID-19 pandemic has made us fear being too close to people and has increased our desire for pets?
People want to foster or adopt pets, now more than ever! At the Lynchburg Humane Society’s Center for Pets there has been an increase of 85% more pets in foster care than at this time last year. The Lynchburg Humane Society already had a robust foster program with 45% of the total pets being cared for in foster homes. An 85% increase over what already felt like a huge accomplishment is truly a bright silver lining in this pandemic. More pets than ever are being embraced into a family and more children are learning to care for and treat pets kindly.
It feels unnatural to us that we are limiting our public access to our Center. It is truly the opposite of everything we’ve worked towards creating in our community. Our whole focus in pet rescue has been the “get them in the door” method. Build an amazing center and encourage the community to come inside your doors, to volunteer, relax, for fun activities and programs and they will see our precious pets and won’t be able to resist bringing them home. So what do we do when our fear of the virus and keeping our pet care team healthy, has stopped us from allowing people into our buildings?
This virus has made us reevaluate our processes. But more importantly, it has shown us that, like Dorothy in The wizard of Oz, we had the power all along. People want to help pets get homes and they can do it without the glittering magic shoes, or in our case bingo nights, art shows and even adoption specials. We will have these things again, because let’s be honest, it’s fun. But it is not the only reason people will adopt. We simply have to ask for help, share our needs and allow them to help us and they will continue to amaze us with their love and compassion, and more importantly, help our pets find their way home.
Blog written by Julie Barger, Development Director, Lynchburg Humane Society