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It’s easy to get jaded in the animal rescue business. Rescuing animals from dire situations caused by humans can make you think twice about lending a helping hand. Today in the year 2020, amidst a global pandemic, it is time to put this mentality behind you. Animals and their humans need you.

We had the opportunity to listen to a webinar presentation by American Pets Alive! with guest speakers from Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). They are seeing trying times in the Arizona desert and have set a high standard for other animal rescues and animal shelters to aspire to. We have recapped their efforts helping both animals and their humans during this COVID-19 crisis. We hope these tips help you to be a source of good in your community and help you to keep taking care of animals in your area.

Build trust with your community.

If you can lend a helping hand to your community, now is the time to do it. COVID-19 is an unprecedented time in our history, leaving people out of work with less money and possibly facing homelessness. Providing help to these people and their animals can make a difference for them now while building trust between them and your animal rescue or animal shelter for the future.

  • Set up animal food and supply drive-ups – Help your community by providing a drive-up service where they can pick-up essential animal supplies, like a bag of dog food or a box of litter. This box of litter or bag of food could make the difference in being able to keep their family pet or having to give it up to a shelter.
  • Provide shelter for homeless animals – PACC has seen their kennels open due to fostering out many of their animals. They partnered with their community to provide shelter for pets owned by the homeless who are having to quarantine. This allows the homeless community to stay in shelters and not have to worry about taking their pets outside, thus preventing the COVID spread. They know their pet is taken care of and will be there for them after their quarantine.
  • Be a source of good for people in need and their pets – Empower your volunteers and team members to want to HELP people and to leave judgment at the door. Many of the pets coming through your drive-up or coming from the homeless may not be spayed or neutered. In these hard times, we would encourage you to choose to help and not pass judgment.

Change how the public interacts with your shelter to reduce human-to-human interaction.

  • Provide appointment only services – Have people call to make appointments to adopt or surrender. This will reduce the number of people coming through the doors. PACC found this increases the feeling of security for their staff and the public.
  • Do adoption counseling over the phone – By providing this service over the phone you are able to limit human-to-human contact. Phone appointments enable your adoption counselors to go over more details by reducing the rush seen in the shelter.
  • Bring pets to the adopters – Limit human interaction even further by providing delivery services of the animals and impress adopters with your outstanding new customer service.

PACC has found with these new operating standards their staff is less overwhelmed and customers are happy to receive more personalized customer service. You may find that you want to adopt these procedures even after COVID-19 passes.

Suspend non-emergency surrenders to prevent animals that don’t have an urgent need to be in a shelter.

  • Set a standard and stick to it – Decide with your team what you consider to be an emergency surrender. It is important to have everyone on the same page here.
  • Empower your team to educate the public – Set your team up for success by providing talking points. For example, what a person can do to find a friendly stray’s owners or a new home instead of bringing it to the shelter? Or, how can your volunteer help an owner get through a bad behavior of a pet they may have given up on?

You may be reading this asking yourself, where do I get the money to deliver pets, set up food-drives, and take in extra dogs? PACC faced similar questions when they started these programs with no additional funding and provided a couple of ideas.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for help – People are struggling, but others are doing ok and want to help. You’d be surprised at the outpouring of support you could get by posting on Facebook or sending an email to past donors asking for help in a trying time.
  2. Grant money – This is a great time to really ramp up your data tracking efforts to help in the ongoing search of grant money. Keep track of your animal intake, animal outcomes, foster numbers, food donated, community services provided. Track the good you are doing! Not only will this help as you go to write grants, but it’s going to help you make future decisions for your animal rescue or animal shelter based on actual data. Using a database, like Pawlytics, will make tracking and reporting a breeze!

Here at Pawlytics, we have created tools to manage your current COVID reality and the future that COVID may create for your shelter or rescue. With a database to reduce your busywork, We hope you are empowered to do good in your community, support pet owners who need you, and continue your lifesaving work as you navigate these strange times.

Times are trying, so remember to be kind to our furry friends and their humans. Some may need your animal shelter or animal rescue more than ever.

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