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Animal shelters lose revenue while adoptions soar

  • Sato Heart rescue is seeing more adoption applications come in as people isolate for COVID-19. Courtesy photos—

  • Sato Heart rescue is seeing more adoption applications come in as people isolate for COVID-19. Courtesy photo

  • Sato Heart rescue is seeing more adoption applications come in as people isolate for COVID-19. Courtesy photos—

  • Sato Heart rescue is seeing more adoption applications come in as people isolate for COVID-19. Courtesy photos—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/28/2020 2:18:57 PM

It’s a time of ups and downs for the Monadnock Humane Society, as adoptions are up, and revenues from paid programs are way down during coronavirus social distancing mandates. 

MHS Executive Director Kathy Collinsworth said last week that the Swanzey-based shelter is still doing adoptions and accepting surrendered animals, but only by individual appointments. 

Despite that, she said, the shelter has had more adoptions since the start of COVID-19 social distancing mandates, not less.

“We’ve had an incredible response to adoptions in the past week,” Collinsworth said. 

Usually, the shelter can have up to about 100 animals in their care at any given time. Currently, they have about half that, and only one dog and a handful of cats eligible and waiting for adoption.

Collinsworth said she doesn’t know for sure what has prompted people to adopt, but said animals are great companions for people who may be spending much more time at home.

“If people are going to be isolating, people are looking at creative ways to feel a social connection. A companion and a new animal is going to be very comforting,” Collinsworth said. “It’s the whole idea of isolation and craving companionship.”

But the shelter has seen the downsides of social distancing too, as it has had to temporarily close its dog daycare program and group training classes, and dog boarding. Those programs, in addition to being community resources, also are significant income generators to help support the shelter. The dog daycare alone represents about $15,000 per month in revenue for the shelter.

By the time the shelter is able to resume its normal activities, it may have lost as much as $40,000 or $50,000 in revenues, Collinsworth said. 

“The loss of all that revenue is an issue,” Collinsworth said.

Sato Heart, a dog rescue based in Milford that finds homes for dogs from Puerto Rico in New Hampshire, is also seeing increased applications recently, according to Social Media Director Laurie Gouley.

Of their latest batch of 10 dogs, flown into the country in a regular monthly delivery, the rescue currently only has two still available for adoption, waiting in foster homes. That kind of turnaround isn’t unusual, Gouley said, but it does seem potential adopters are looking for pets.

“I think we are seeing more activities and getting more applications in than we usually get. People are home now and thinking about it,” Gouley said. She even heard from one potential adopter that they had to cancel travel vacation plans due to the virus, and decided to take the money they would have spent on the trip and put it towards a pet adoption, instead.

Heidi Bourgeois, president of the board of directors and adoption manager at Kitty Rescue and Adoption in Jaffrey, said the rescue has maintained its regular adoption hours, and hasn’t seen either a big increase or decrease in adoptions or donations so far.

Now may be the perfect time to adopt, Bourgeois said, as with many people at home, it’s a golden opportunity to socialize a new pet, particularly the former feral or cats that have lived long-term at the no-kill shelter.

“There’s nothing like being able to win over a feral cat, and see what they’re able to become,” Bourgeois said.

Collinsworth said the community has been very supportive, not only in adoptions, but responding quickly to a call to bolster the Pet Food Pantry, which provides pet food for low-income families, and other donations. But, as with other businesses, she said the concern is how long-term the partial shut down and loss of revenue will continue.

The Monadnock Humane Society has paused any shipments of dogs from overcrowded southern shelters for the time being. Collinsworth said she’s also monitoring the situation closely to determine whether the Humane Society will be able to hold its annual Hair Ball, a gala and live auction held in June, which is typically the largest annual fundraiser for the shelter.

Sato Heart volunteers are also watching the news closely. All the dogs available for adoption at Sato Heart are flown from Second Chance Rescue, a Puerto Rican rescue, and while so far, there has been no indication flights to and from Puerto Rico will be suspended, Gouley said that like everything else right now, no one knows what the future will bring.

Collinsworth said even after immediate concerns with partial shut downs and social distancing are past, shelters may have to deal with the economic aftermath. During the economic depression of 2008, the Humane Society saw a spike in surrenders due to families not being able to afford to keep their pets, she said. 

For more information about adoption or donating to these organizations, visit www.satoheartrescue.org, www.monadnockhumanesociety.org, or www.kittyrescueandadoption.org.


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