As individuals, businesses and organizations across Michigan struggle to adapt to COVID-19’s increasingly unpredictable reality, many aspects of life seem to be flying under the radar, including the efforts of the Michigan Humane Society to house and care for animals amid the ongoing pandemic. Utilizing all means at their disposal, the Michigan Humane Society was able to find temporary homes for hundreds of animals, while also adapting current practices to ensure animals in need of assistance get the care they deserve.
“When we first began needing to limit services, one of our priorities was to place as many of our current adoptable animals and those eligible for foster, into homes in the community. Our initial email to our volunteers for help generated a HUGE response- we placed over 400 animals into temporary homes in about two weeks,” shared Anna Chrisman, Media Manager for the Michigan Humane Society, when asked about the efforts undertaken by the Michigan Humane Society when the stay-at-home orders began.
“This required a massive effort on the part of all our facility staff to ensure that animals received necessary medical care prior to leaving the facility, scheduling pick-ups according to CDC guidelines, preparing supplies for the animals and more,” Chrisman continued. “It was also a massive effort on the part of our volunteer team to field calls, respond to emails and make sure that animals were placed with families best suited to their needs.”
Finding homes willing to take in foster animals was the first move taken by the Humane Society when stay-at-home orders began back in March, but in it was just the beginning of a new set of practices tailored for social distancing. One move meant to maximize safety was the creation of adoption capabilities that utilize social media and the internet to find homes for animals.
“So far, we’ve been doing well with all the services we continue to offer and we’re continually evaluating what parts of our operation can be brought back online as this situation continually evolves. For example, we were recently able to launch a virtual adoption process using our social media channels to introduce the animals looking for homes and connect interested homes with our adoption team,” shared Chrisman when discussing some of the support efforts still offered by the Michigan Humane Society.
With interest in pet adoptions on the rise throughout the country, the Michigan Humane Society uses it’s social media channels to highlight animals in need of adoption, as well as in promoting it’s “Giving Tuesday” fundraiser, which concluded on May 5. A part of the #GivingTuesdayNow challenge, the Michigan Humane Society sought to raise funds for food, shelter and medical care for animals in their facilities as well as the ongoing adoption efforts.
While Chrisman explained that the rate of animals currently coming into the Humane Society facilities is lower than usual, the situation has allowed the organization to expand its efforts inside the facilities. This expansion includes offering telemedicine veterinarian assistance, expanding the pet food pantry to include curbside pick-up and increasing outreach and communication between the humane society and existing pet owners in need of advice.
“As we’re currently operating on an emergency basis, the rate animals arrive at the shelter is not what we would typically see at this time of year. On the other hand, we’ve expanded some of our existing resources further into the community, so we’re better able to support those animals still at home with their families,” shared Chrisman.
“Our cruelty investigators and field agents that handle emergency animal rescue are still in the field, providing those services for animals and owners in need. We’ve transitioned our pet pantry in Detroit to a drive-up/curbside pick-up model and continue to engage in outreach efforts to help owners with their pets,” she added. “Our veterinary centers are offering emergency appointments using a drive-up model and we’ve also recently launched a telemedicine and online pharmacy for our existing clients. We are always happy to speak with owners who are in need of services to see what MHS can do to assist.”
While the Michigan Humane Society adapts to suit its animal’s needs, there is always room for support from the broader community. Some ways in which the general public can help out the Michigan Humane Society include participating in ongoing efforts to foster animals, helping to find adopted homes for animals still inside the shelters, and directly donating to the organization so that medical and emergency veterinary services may continue operation.
“One of our most pressing needs at this time in monetary support from our community- we rely on donations to operate all of our services, including emergency care and rescue. If people would like to make a gift, they can do that online at www.michiganhumane.org/donate or by calling 866-MHUMANE,” added Chrisman when discussing ways in which individuals can support the Michigan Humane Society.