Pandemic Inspires Innovation
In very early 2020, who would have thought that we’d have to spontaneously come up with a plan to continue adoptions during a pandemic, while considering the safety of employees, volunteers, and the public. But that’s exactly what Animal League America did as the COVID-19 crisis escalated. Though deemed an “essential” service by the pandemic guidelines, we were also determined to keep our essential promise to each pet: adoption into a responsible, loving home.
Around the same time that families were asked or required to “shelter at home,” there was a wave of great interest in adopting. Our website and social media channels continued to promote the animals in our care and those coming in through our rescue efforts. Our adoption counselors began conducting adoptions by appointment only, as well as processing adoptions over the phone and via Zoom and Skype calls. There were also people who had pre-approved applications so staff started matching the animals at the Adoption Center with potential families. Virtual meet-and-greets were set up through Zoom so one or two pet candidates could be presented to each family.
When matches were made, adopters often wished to meet their pets before ﬁnishing the paper work, so additional safety measures were put in place. Adopters were asked to wear masks and gloves, limit the number of family members coming in, and limit the time spent on campus. Cat adoptions were processed at our main reception desk providing extra distance, in addition to taped lines marking space to be kept between each adopter or family ﬁnalizing paper work. Where dog adoptions are ﬁnalized, we added Plexiglas barriers to the booths. In both areas, communal items such as keypads, signature pens, and clipboards were disinfected all day long.
From mid-March through mid-June we were averaging 60 – 70 adoptions a week and more than 600 animals had found loving, responsible homes. Some of these new ways of matching adopters and pets may be here to stay. “In the cat area, we are ﬁnding that it is more effective to set up appointments with potential adopters. We have discussions with prospective adopters to ﬁnd out what qualities they are looking for in a feline, so we can select animals to make proper matches,” said Kristie Buccella, Shelter Director for Animal League America. “There are 12 communal rooms where cats can interact with other cats, potential adopters, play, or just be lazy and look out the large picture windows in Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center. Having to choose from so many cats can be overwhelming so we feel it is best to point them in the right direction rather than just hoping they ﬁnd a good match.”
Our website is updated daily with available dogs and cats looking for a home of their own. If you’re interested in adopting, please visit our Adopt page. You can start the process simply by clicking the Inquire About button on each adoptable animals’ profile.
Pet Health Centers
Our Pet Health Centers, accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, are now taking appointments for both the Don and Karen LaRocca Wellness Center and the Alex Lewyt Medical Center (including spay/neuter and dental procedures) while continuing to make sure our community remains as safe as possible. Appointments are being staggered and spaced out for social distancing, and we are continuing with curbside service.
Virtual appointments are also available, connecting with an Animal League America veterinarian via webcam through the Activ4Pets online platform. Please remember that telemedicine is NOT appropriate for emergency situations.
For appointments in either the Medical Center or Wellness Center, clients are first driving up to the front of the building with their pets and receptionists, using protective gear and social distancing, will be directing them to a parking space. Owners are filling out necessary paperwork in the car and a veterinary technician is taking the animal into the appointment with the doctor. Then the owner will speak with the veterinarian by cell phone and the pet is returned to the owner along with medications, if needed.
For spay/neuter and other surgical procedures, clients are asked to download this helpful map to make the process easier.
Summer Pet Safety Tips for Curbside Services
As our Pet Health Centers are continuing with curbside services we have put together these helpful tips to help keep cool while using our curbside services during the hot summer months.
- Before leaving your home, remember to bring water and a bowl for your pet, as well as water for yourself. If you run out, let us know.
- Remain in your vehicle with the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up. If you do not have air conditioning in your car, please let us know when you arrive and we will house your pet until we are ready to see them.
- Refrain from walking your pet around campus due to the extreme heat. Pets can easily over-heat in the summer and the asphalt is very hot on their little paws! If you think they need to relieve themselves, try to find a shady spot to walk them and then return to your car.
- Never leave your pet in the car unattended.