By Alexandria Zine

As the devastation of the pandemic continues to amplify, many people in quarantine find the presence of a furry companion to be quite the stress reliever. In fact, animal shelters across the nation are experiencing plenty of support and care for animals through donations and those interested in fostering and potentially adopting. According to a New York Times article, “Stuck at Home, Americans Turn to Foster Pets for Companionship,” an animal welfare organization in Kansas City, Missouri is astounded by 250 applicants’ wishes to foster in comparison to the typical 10. Local shelters, such as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) on Cape Cod, are responding to all of the obstacles and demands that this pandemic presents.

The MSPCA has undergone the transition to virtual care/assistance and their website now includes a drop-down focusing on COVID-19. Many of the new implementations revolve around the idea of ‘social distancing’ of at least six feet. These shifts in daily life are meant to halt the spread of Covid-19 and to ‘flatten the curve’.

Despite the closure of their facilities, the opportunity to adopt is still present. All animals are available to view on the Pet Search portal. If an individual is still contemplating adoption or would like to proceed, the MSPCA staff need adoptees to contact them first at 508-775-0940 or cape@mspca.org. By scheduling an appointment for an adoption, the staff can ensure that everyone complies with the CDC recommendations. Similarly, the center’s activities–including humane education classes (for children) and dog training classes– are all virtual. The content of these lessons are primarily uploaded on the Positively Great Dog Training Facebook Group. To procure complete access to these training lessons, private lessons via video chat can be set up at the training website in the ‘Programs and Resources’ section. Additionally, there are live videos on Facebook of staff members giving a tour that can simultaneously communicate any updates and hearten one’s day with the cameos of the animals waiting for a permanent home. This interface can offer local animal welfare activists or lovers the ability to stay in the loop and potentially help fellow community members.

The adoption organization is also contributing to those in the vicinity by extending their resources. Due to the abrupt and universal unemployment being confronted, many are unable to accommodate the needs of their pets. The community outreach teams are in the process of allaying the financial concerns, insecurities and stress of the pandemic. This encompasses the disaster preparedness supplies–dog crates, water bowls, and pet food– given to those in a position of need, according to the MSPCA COVID-19 updates. More information on self-care for owners and their pets to foster security in one’s home is available at the disaster preparation webpage.

As adoption and foster rates continue to climb across the nation during this time of mandatory isolation, the center can guarantee, “emergency temporary housing for pets whose owners are ill or hospitalized”.

The MSPCA said that they, “…recognize the vital role that our adoption centers play as a safe haven for animals especially in times of crisis. We are committed to being a resource for our community during the outbreak with services and support.”

The Angell Animal Medical Center is remaining open to fill prescription orders and to handle medical emergencies. There are hospitals located in Boston, Waltham, Danvers and Westford. Since their focus is to devote all resources to animals whose welfare is compromised, many appointments for routine check-ups and follow-ups have been cancelled. Owners can also submit orders and receive them through mail, with added shipping fees.

According to the Angell Animal Medical Center website, prescriptions are placed on the curbside outside of the facility to keep the rules of social distancing in place. The fulfillment of prescription refills or requests takes place on a 30-minute interval due to the time it takes to prepare it.

For visits for a medical procedure, owners must communicate via telephone and wait for staff members to meet them outside. As owners are not permitted to enter the facility with their pets, they must hand over their pets all the while maintaining an adequate distance. For pet owners that do not have a leash or carrier, the staff can provide this during the visit. However, they suggest that owners arrive with their own. Following the appointment, the veterinarian gives their client a call to provide a synopsis of the visit and any suggestions.

Until containment of COVID-19 occurs and maintains, these rules are here to stay. If you are interested in contributing in some way, the adoption center is seeking monetary donations, canned or dry pet food still in its packaging and any items from their Amazon wishlist (mspca.org/wishlist). In spite of the pandemic’s impact, the MSPCA plans to maintain quality care of all animals at their center and those in the community. Do your part to keep our furry friends healthy and safe.