Lehigh Valley Animal Shelters See Their Models Change
Bucks County SPCA, Lehigh County Humane Society and Logan’s Heroes – all animal shelters in and around the Lehigh Valley – have had an unusual year in terms of animal admissions and adoptions and continue to face uncertainty financial in the midst of the pandemic.
The Bucks County SPCA in New Hope, Pa., And the Lehigh County Humane Society in Allentown provide lost property, adoption and cruelty investigation services. Logan’s Heroes, in East Greenville, Pa., Is a foster family-based rescue organization offering adoption services and animal placement programs.
Bucks County SPCA
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saw a surge in adoptions as the coronavirus shutdown began in March, followed by a second peak in animal adoptions and contributions in August.
Linda Reider, executive director of the Bucks County SPCA, believes the increase in early quarantine adoptions happened because they remained open when many other shelters in the area did not. done, due to COVID-19 policies and guidelines.
Reider said the organization has gone by appointment only, limiting the process to one visitor at a time to bring an animal, search for an animal for adoption, purchase a dog license or recover a lost pet.
“We had to make sure we didn’t overcrowd the space, (so) because of that it slowed things down,” she said.
Additionally, they asked all admissions if the animal may have been exposed to COVID-19 and quarantined them if necessary to protect animals, caretakers and visitors. They followed this protocol when treating two dogs from a cruelty case allegedly exposed to COVID-19.
“We kept them in a separate living area, and we used PPE when we treated them and a specific staff member provided care for them during a period of quarantine,” Reider said. “When the staff member didn’t get sick we were able to stop it and everyone was fine. We now ask each time, “Do you think this animal may have been exposed to COVID at home?” So that we can follow what is put in place as a cautious quarantine. “
Reider noticed that while more kittens are being born due to a lack of spaying and neutering this year, their kitten consumption hasn’t changed much. Sterilization and sterilization were considered elective surgeries for three months, starting in mid-March.
Many states placed restrictions on elective surgeries early in the pandemic.
“Cats can live very well outdoors and have three litters a year, and there is a huge cat population that is not neutered and has kittens all the time,” Reider said. “So we guessed that people were stuck at home and they would find litters of kittens, and, instead of bringing them to us, we think a lot of people raised them themselves.”
Reider believes that stopping the sterilization and sterilization processes in conjunction with the closing of the courts has saved their shelter and other shelters in the United States.
The court closures lasted from April to August. Because the courts were closed, there are still many animals in the SPCA that are not yet eligible for adoption.
“In July, we took 62 animals from one location, and this court case still hasn’t happened,” Reider said. “None of these animals have been able to get a hearing for four months, and they are still with us. Even after you’ve won your case, you have to wait 30 more days to give the person a chance to appeal if they’ve been found guilty … then after 30 days, if they don’t appeal and lost, that which is usually what happens, then we become owners (of the animals) and can get them adopted through our system.
During closures, the return rate of animals reached a low of three percent, down from five percent previously. Reider believes it’s because owners have more time than ever to spend with their pets at home and, with the release of their new Bucks County Behavioral Support Line for Pet Owners, it’s easier than before to resolve any issues that arise.
August adoption and admission statistics give hope for the future for the Bucks County SPCA. The chapter had 143 adoptions in August, Reider said.
“The entries were up, but the animal exits were even more important,” she said. “We feel like we’re back to some kind of normalcy.”
The biggest concern of the SPCA right now is its finances, as the organization is funded by donations. They typically fundraise through the sale of dog licenses, animal adoptions, or donations at their counter or online. With fewer patrons, however, they weren’t able to raise as much money as usual.
Reider said they couldn’t hold their fundraising events because of COVID-19.
“We’re dependent on a big fundraising party in October, and we can’t have it this year because we can’t fit that many people into a room,” Reider said. “So we are having what is called a ‘pajama gala’. We have to have enough money to take care of the animals, even if we can’t throw a big party to help support that.
Lehigh County Humanitarian Society
At the Lehigh County Humane Society, adoptions and interest in foster care are higher than ever.
The Lehigh County Humane Society has limited the number of people in the facility at any one time to a maximum of 10: four people are allowed in their large dog kennels and two people can play with one dog at a time. They also installed plexiglass at all checkouts.
Unlike the SPCA, it is not clear that these procedures are slowing down adoption or admissions in any way.
Jackie Folsom, development coordinator at the Lehigh County Humane Society, said they often had to close their application portal during early quarantine when they only had one adoption counselor due to an influx surprisingly high adoption requests.
She said the intake remained the same as usual.
“People are more interested than ever in adopting,” Folsom said. “They have a lot of free time and working from home or being isolated can make them a bit lonely. We have had an adoption request through the roof throughout this matter.
Folsom said that in addition to the free time and loneliness brought about by quarantine, the increase in adoptions is also due to a streamlined adoption process they implemented this year. Instead of being approved for adoption after choosing an animal, potential adopters must now apply for adoption before they can choose.
As for the kitten season, Folsom said there hasn’t been much increase in intake, but there has been a surge in the desire to welcome them.
“We had a fair amount of kittens, one litter per day,” Folsom said. “It hasn’t gotten out of hand. We are very interested in welcoming kittens, maybe the people who find them feel like they have the time and attention to raise them on their own which is wonderful for us and for them. kittens.
The Lehigh County Humane Society is still able to partner with businesses online for their fundraisers, as they did before COVID-19. Currently, they are holding their “Snoot Candles Fundraiser” where the proceeds from the sale of candles will go to the shelter.
Logan’s Heroes has also seen a sharp increase in adoptions, foster care and admissions since the quarantine began. Because it is based on foster families, Logan’s Heroes does not depend on keeping animals in a facility, so COVID-19 procedures have not been implemented.
“We have already adopted more dogs this year than last year in total,” said Chris Baringer, president of Logan’s Heroes. “We have had an increase in the number of outbreaks. We are all placed with foster families for dogs and cats, so this is where the people at home are actually a plus, because we have had more opportunities for foster families and we have been able to help more animals this way.
In addition, the consumption of their main animals, cats and dogs, has increased considerably.
“Our total dog count this year has been 260 dogs so far, and it’s not until September,” Baringer said. “That’s pretty much what we did last year with the dogs. We have over 100 cats and kittens, and last year we made 60. We have seen a huge increase from what we have seen before.
Baringer said “No Nonsense Neutering,” a sterilization and sterilization service in the area, has a strong presence in Allentown. It opened about two months ago, but closed shortly thereafter for three months due to coronavirus restrictions – in the middle of kitten season – which could be contributing to the increase in the number of cats. .
One of the challenges of Logan’s Heroes has been the dramatic increase in the number of people interested in adopting puppies.
“Instead of getting five or 10 requests (per puppy), we were getting hundreds… our big concern is whether that puppy, even when things get back to normal, will still be there,” said Baringer. “We have had a lot of people who travel a lot normally but stay at home because of this quarantine who are interested. Well, you have to stay home and plan for the next 10 to 15 years. It’s a 10 to 15 year commitment.
Baringer worries that adopters are thinking short-term rather than long-term, and he’s afraid of receiving feedback when people run out of time for their pets.
Another concern of Baringer is the finances of Logan’s Heroes this year. Baringer said an increase in their adoptions means increased spending. The average cost to bring a dog into their rescue system is $ 600, but they adopt them for free.
“The only problem we face is the increase in vet bills, of course, with the increase in adoptions, but the decrease in fundraising,” Baringer said. “We lost five major fundraisers in the spring, and the spring begins our year-round fundraising season to help meet all the medical and (food) needs for the animals we rescue. We have lost over $ 30,000 in fundraising income this year due to the coronavirus. “
“Mutts and Munchies” is the big fundraiser that Logan’s Heroes is hosting in the fall, which will now take place outdoors with attendees and vendors spaced apart and wearing masks in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.