National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week is celebrated every year during the first full week of November, and this year more than ever, it’s a vital opportunity for people to learn about their shelters and local rescues and learn how they can help with their rescue work.
This year, perhaps more than any other since the week was established in 1996 by the Humane Society of the US (HSUS), there is a continued critical need for community involvement as shelters grapple with staff shortages, a decrease in adoptions and a slight increase in admissions. . While there has been incredible community engagement and support with dramatic increases in placement and adoptions earlier in the pandemic, these trends have subsided and new momentum is needed.
Best Friends Animal Society, one of the nation’s leading animal welfare organizations, urges the public to step up adoption and reception shelters and rescue groups, to help ease the pressure on animal welfare organizations across the country. Late summer data showed challenges for shelters and declining trends in adoption, including a dramatic decrease in shelter numbers, resulting in reduced operations and decreased adoption. animal capacity. As a result, many shelters are struggling to keep pace with public demand.
“I’ve said it many times before, but now more than ever we need the public to embrace or encourage,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends. “If you’re thinking about getting a new pet, now is the time. The public has escalated during the pandemic, and we must do so again because the lives of countless animals are on the line if this progress recedes. ”
Best Friends surveyed more than 150 animal shelters and organizations, 88% of which said they were understaffed. More than half (57%) cut their hours or programs due to understaffing. 41% operate down more than 25% of normal workforce and 62% operate more than 10% below normal workforce levels. Government shelters and private shelters with government contracts are more affected than other types of shelters. Due to understaffing, most organizations report that staff are more stressed than usual.
In 2020, the pandemic initially reduced the volume of pets entering shelters – by around 20% per National Best Friends Data Set. But predicted, people emerging from the pandemic have definitely had an impact on shelters as life changes bring uncertainty.
Animal consumption was up 2.6% year-on-year, based on 24PetWatch shelter data. The biggest challenge for shelters and rescues is that there has been a softness in the adoptions returning to normal.
In a recent survey commissioned by Best Friends, 59% of general public respondents considering adopting are delaying the process due to returning to the office, taking a vacation, starting a new job, and other reasons.
Data shows adoptions are down 1.2% from 2020 and 20.4% from 2019. The combination of slight increases in the number of admissions and decreases in adoption and transportation, along with the staffing issues that we see in all areas, made it a very difficult year for shelters and rescues.
But if there is one bright spot that has come to light during the pandemic, it’s that people love animals and want to do well with them. They enjoyed the time spent with their own pets and saw the comfort, companionship, and joy that their pets have brought them. This suggests that if communities support pets, then they can and will support rescues and shelters in their community by supporting rescue work in their communities.
Shelters adapted quickly over the past year as they were forced to close or limit access, placing animals in foster homes and creating virtual pet encounters and adoption interviews, social distancing curbside paperless adoptions, drive-thru adoption events and virtual fundraisers. In addition to caring for animals in need, many shelters across the country have launched or stepped up pet pantries and even the delivery of pet food to provide residents with resources to enable them. to avoid abandoning their pets at shelters, especially since many are struggling financially due to COVID.
Many shelters have had great success with virtual adoptions since March 2020, as pets show themselves much better in foster homes than in kennels or cages.This provides an opportunity to meet a dog or cat virtually on a couch, rather than a shelter environment and see their true personality shine in a foster family. Foster parents also have a better understanding of animals and are able to participate directly in the virtual adoption process, sharing with potential adopters how animals get along with other animals and family members.
Best Friends Animal Society is a national animal welfare organization leading the effort to end the slaughter of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by 2025. Best Friends provides support and training for animal welfare programs. rescue in partnership with more than 3,300 shelters and rescue groups across the country.
To see the best friends’ Discoveries that save lives in 2020 and find out how to support local shelters by choosing to adopt, sterilize, volunteer, host, donate or get involved, visit bestfriends.org.