As we learn more about COVID-19 each day, and as our elected officials continue to issue community directives to best protect people during this pandemic, we are absorbing information, making decisions, and adapting quickly. You would be very proud to see our amazing team rising to the occasion and innovating in countless ways!
Last week, the Mayor of Washington, DC issued an order closing non-essential businesses. HRA and our core activities are considered essential to the running of the nation’s capital. Likewise, in New Jersey, the Governor issued a stay-at-home order for non-essential businesses, but St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and our core activities are considered essential to the health and well-being of the communities we serve.
The animals still need a safe place to be cared for, and our officers will remain on the road. We are working closely with the government officials, and we are well-positioned to learn of any changes in the operations in all our communities.
In response, we’ve made some critical changes to our operations to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, the animals in our care, and the public:
- In Washington, we have moved our adoptable animals into foster homes and launched virtual adoptions. On March 26, our DC shelters closed for adoptions. This change has been wonderful for the animals; instead of waiting in a kennel, they are awaiting adoption in a loving home environment. This also is good for adopters, who are practicing social distancing – the adoptions process can be done from the comfort of their living rooms.
- At St. Hubert’s, we successfully launched our new drive-through foster pickup process and established safer ways for adopters to meet the animals. Effective March 25, our New Jersey shelters closed to the public except by appointment from 4-6 p.m. Community members have overwhelmed us with their generous offer to foster our animals in their homes.
- Another important change we have made is that we have temporarily suspended spay and neuter surgeries and for the time being we are adopting out intact animals at all our locations. Adopters will receive a waiver so they can return with their animal at a later date for the surgery, and our staff will stay in communication with the adopters so they are informed and encouraged to return as soon as we are able to perform the surgeries. This has been a very difficult decision, and one that our shelter colleagues across the country are also making. The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) has put healthcare providers in the human medicine field at great risk. Animal care and control organizations across the country have been asked (and in some situations mandated) to provide these valuable resources to human healthcare facilities, and we want to support the heroic efforts of our human healthcare providers.
Despite the challenges posed by the virus, our field services teams in DC and NJ remain hard at work. Unfortunately, animal cruelty and neglect doesn’t stop during a pandemic, and we won’t stop either. You may have seen the video we shared last week showing the nine dogs we rescued from an apartment in SE DC. Our officers, acting on a tip from a good Samaritan, found the dogs living among their own waste, without access to food or water. We rescued five puppies and four adult dogs. The puppies were in especially bad shape and we made it to them just in time. The good news is, they are now getting the care they need and deserve.
Early last week we received some wonderful news: we are being asked to serve as a recipient and distributor – both in DC and in New Jersey – of major pet food donations from Greater Good. We will distribute this food to families in need in all the communities we serve. We are also coordinating with other shelters and animal welfare organizations in our regions so they can share this food with families in their communities. Our work to keep families together is more essential now than it ever has been.
We are only able to continue this life saving work during such a challenging time because of you. Thank you for your support, and please stay in touch. We would love to see photos of you and your pets! Rest assured that we are in close touch with our governmental and animal welfare partners so we can continue with our essential work in the safest and most effective way possible. Stay safe and be well, and we will keep in touch.