WEST OLIVE, Mich. — Michigan's stay at home order has forced animal shelters to re-evaluate the way they operate. Many have closed completely, but Harbor Humane Society is still adopting animals by appointment only, and demand has been high.
"We’ve been able to adopt out 274 animals since March 14, which is really, really amazing. We have had so many people apply to adopt. Probably more than ever, so it’s really exciting," said operations director Allison Deters.
People spending more time at home and trying to avoid feelings of isolation are believed to be part of the reason for the spike.
"It is a wonderful time to adopt. You have all sorts of extra time to devote to your new furry friend and help them get acclimated and start training," Deters said.
Harbor Humane takes in strays from Ottawa County, but the number of strays has gone down since the pandemic began, and so has the number of surrenders.
"We’ve seen really a decrease in our intakes overall. I'm not sure if people just aren’t being put in the same kind of situations that they would be normally. I think people must just be home with their pets," Deters said.
Currently the shelter has a little more than 50 animals in their building. They're also taking in transfers to help out shelters in the Detroit and Flint areas.
"Our network of fosters has just exploded, which is amazing. We have so many pets that have gotten out of the shelter environment and are just hanging out there waiting for their forever home," Deters said.
"Adopters should also keep in mind that it might take us a little longer if the animal you’re interested in is out in foster. We have to coordinate that as well."
The organization is also helping out current pet owners during the pandemic by expanding its pet food pantry.
"Typically once a month we open that up to low income families and we do it out of a warehouse in Holland, but because the need is so great right now with the pandemic, we are doing a supplemental pet food pantry," Deters said.
That pantry will be held Wednesday, April 22 from noon to 2 p.m. at 100 Aniline Avenue N in Holland. People will stay in their vehicles and staff members and volunteers will load the donations.
Harbor Humane has had some challenges of its own, though. They've had to cancel community events and programming like dog obedience classes and their spring break camp. It all means less revenue coming into the organization.
"Our biggest need right now because we have had to forgo those events and programming is really a monetary need. If you are able to donate we would really, really appreciate it," Deters said.
You can donate money or items on Harbor Humane's Amazon wish list through their website. People can also text "HARBOR" to 616-219-2267 to donate.
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