These days, the halls of the Halifax Humane Society's main campus are quiet.
That is, until you pass by the large dog kennels. Then you're greeted by Cora, Panda, Tito, Goofy and 19 other dogs still housed at the animal shelter. The Halifax Humane Society has been closed to the public since the governor issued a stay-at-home order on April 3, but with animals still coming, the shelter staff had to come up with a solution for adoptions.
How could they find homes for the animals still at the shelter, and those in foster homes, without people being able to come see them?
And thus, a virtual adoption process was born.
Halifax Humane Society is now showing animals to prospective adopters using Zoom and FaceTime. The remaining shelter staff and volunteers — many cannot come by the shelter in person because their age or underlying illness makes them more susceptible to contract COVID-19 — will take the animal out of their kennel and set up a meet and greet over video. The goal is to show the adopter what the animal is really like.
“We never want people to make a decision, whether it’s on video or in person, of looking at an animal in a kennel," said Barry KuKes, community outreach director for the Halifax Humane Society. "They act completely different when they’re out of the kennel, and that’s their true personality.”
If the person wishes to go through with the adoption, Halifax Humane Society will make arrangements to deliver the animal to their home along with the appropriate adoption paperwork.
As of Thursday, April 23, the shelter has completed three adoptions in this way: Two cats, and one dog.
Many of the animals are not housed at the shelter, as KuKes said they activated their foster program when the shelter closed to the public.
“We call them stormtroopers," KuKes said. We use that terminology when we have hurricanes, but this is an emergency as well.”
He believes fostering is the best way to adopt an animal as well.
“Then you can see if the animal fits in with your family, if its good with your kids and everything," he said.
A total of 202 animals are currently being housed in foster homes, which helps since 20% of the shelter staff is not able to come in, KuKes said. Animal Control continues to bring in animals, but the Halifax Humane Society is asking residents not to surrender their animals until after the pandemic.
“The less animals we have during this time, the better," KuKes said. "Once this is over, [the number] will go back up.”
Since the start of the pandemic, fundraising has also taken a hit. KuKes said with no events, their donations are down. The Halifax Humane Society was also forced to postpone its 10th-annual Mutt Strutt 5K Fun Run and Walk-a-thon, originally scheduled for April 18. That event alone usually brings in about $50,000 of funding, KuKes said.
Want to help? KuKes said a great way is by donating, both pet food and money. Also, people can sign up to volunteer and take some of their online classes. Visit halifaxhumanesociety.org