3TV, ABC 15, & FOX 10: AHS Program Changes During COVID-19

News Highlights:

  • To help safeguard the community and meet the needs of the animals that depend on the Arizona Humane Society, we have implemented several modifications and temporary cancellations for a number of AHS services. Full details and most recent updates are available here.
  • An Emergency Relief Adoption Special, courtesy of BISSELL Pet Foundation, was held on March 20 & 21, 2020 before adoptions at AHS were temporarily closed. We are thrilled to share that this adoption special resulted in 99 pets finding furever homes! The ten pets who were not adopted during this special were places in Foster Hero homes.
  • Adoptions are temporarily closed at all locations as AHS shifts its efforts towards placing pets in Foster Hero homes moving forward.

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TODAY

Americans step up to help animal shelters by fostering pets during pandemic

Things were looking good for Axel Evensen, 17, when the coronavirus outbreak led to a stay-at-home order in California. The high school senior had just been cast in the school play, was interning at a veterinary clinic and looking forward to rites of passage like senior prom and graduation.

“This has been his best and happiest year of school,” his mom, Jill Evensen, told TODAY. “It was a lot to lose all at once.”

Evensen hoped her family of four could find something constructive to do with their time at home, since she believes, “Sometimes helping somebody else is the best way to make yourself feel better, too.”

Axel Evensen suggested fostering a dog. With his parents’ support, he emailed paperwork to OC Animal Care in Tustin, California. The next day, the family picked up Johnny, a Chihuahua mixed-breed dog recovering from eye surgery.

The little dog instantly bonded to the teen and sleeps in his bed at night. Sometimes they FaceTime together with friends.

“He’s very attached to me,” he told TODAY. “It’s definitely something fun to keep my mind off things.”

Volunteers across America have opened their homes to foster pets as animal shelters race to adapt to social distancing and other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The numbers are both staggering and inspiring.

Representatives from the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society told TODAY that the data management system Petpoint analyzed figures from 1,200 animal welfare organizations. For the week of March 14-20, the groups saw an overall 93% increase in animals going into foster homes compared to the previous week.

“In the last week or two, shelters have come up with innovative plans to continue lifesaving, like virtual meet-and-greets by webcam and online meeting platforms like Skype, appointment-only fosters and adoptions and curbside pickup of pets,” Julie Castle, chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society, told TODAY in an email.

For instance, Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control in Michigan instituted a “cuddle shuttle” to transport shelter pets to foster families and adopters. North Carolina’s SPCA of Wake County started livestreaming adoptable animals, and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa hosted a name-your-price adoption event called “Social Distancing Sidekicks.”

Bretta Nelson, a spokesperson for Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, said the nonprofit’s new drive-up foster service has been a huge success. Foster volunteers send a text when they arrive, a member of the staff brings out paperwork to their car and once it’s complete, escorts the pet from the shelter to the vehicle. A similar system is in place for veterinary exams and treatment.

“For the community, it reinforces that they can do this and still be safe, which is so important right now,” Nelson told TODAY.

Currently, 345 pets from Arizona Humane Society live in foster homes, primarily “bottle baby” kittens, cats, puppies and dogs. Additionally, on March 21, the nonprofit hosted an empty-the-shelters event — with precautions like 6 feet of social distancing and plenty of sanitizing — that found 99 pets permanent homes.

“I have to applaud our teams,” Dr. Melissa Thompson, a veterinarian and vice president of medical operations for Arizona Humane Society, told TODAY. “And the community has been outrageous in their support.”

AHS & COVID-19 Updates