Five Questions with Jessica Henry
Executive director, Allen County SPCA
1 What’s the status of animals currently in the shelter? How are they being cared for?
The shelter is currently empty! By the close of business on Saturday, April 4, we had just five dogs in the building, four adoptable and one compassion foster dog who belongs to a local person who is currently too ill with pneumonia to care for him. We also had eight cats. The following day, the four adoptable dogs and all of the cats were placed in foster homes, and the remaining dog was transported to Law’s Country Kennel, because they’re currently helping us with overflow.
2 What does the shelter need from its supporters now? Donations? Foster homes?
Right now our focus is on returning to our community the kindness that so many have shown us over the years. So any donations in the way of pet supplies are being repackaged and distributed daily during our pet food bank hours – twice daily, Sunday through Friday, 9 a.m.–10 a.m. and 4 p.m.–5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9–10 a.m. Of course, like any nonprofit, our funding is finite, so if people do have the means to support us financially, we are accepting monetary donations through our website, allencountyspca.org, and via U.S. mail. We still have staff in the building every day taking care of the business aspects of our programs.
3 You’ve made an offer to help through the shelter’s Pet Promises program. What services are available?
In addition to our daily pet food bank, we have fosters and kennels at the ready to assist with care for people directly impacted by COVID-19. We also know that people may find themselves in housing transition in the weeks ahead. For those folks who need temporary care for their animals until they find suitable housing for themselves and their pets, we will offer foster care. Finally, we have always offered compassion fostering for the pets of victims of domestic violence. Especially now, when tensions are running higher than usual and families are under duress, we will offer safe harbor for the cats and dogs of people fleeing domestic violence.
The process for these programs is simple. For the pet food banks, we require nothing more than a need for pet food. No ID, for example. For the compassion foster programs, we have simple forms that can be completed via email or even over the phone, if necessary. We can transport the animals back to the shelter where they’ll receive any necessary services and then be placed into the appropriate foster setting. We are monitoring our voicemails at (260) 744-0454.
4 What are you expecting in the weeks ahead? Do you expect to see more pet surrenders?
We are practically begging people not to surrender or dump their animals right now. Shelter space is at a premium so that we can help those pets who need us the very most. We anticipate an increased need for pet food and supplies, and we are bracing ourselves – as Allen County approaches its peak of COVID-19 – for many, many pets to require temporary housing. Recent studies indicating that domestic animals may now test positive for this strain of coronavirus won’t help matters. Those pets should be kept in the homes of COVID patients as much as possible, but separate from the patient, just as is recommended with human family members. But, in the event that a patient lives alone and there are no other friends or family to help, we want to be there to provide compassionate care for those animals.
5 We’re learning much about emergency preparedness. What should pet owners do to prepare for a crisis?
First, today, while people are healthy, we recommend they reach out to friends and family who would be willing to care for their pet for at least two weeks. Make sure to have their contact information readily available and prominently posted in the home in case of an emergency.
Next, put together an emergency “go kit” for the pet that includes copies of their vet records, a crate, food for at least two weeks, and any medications and other supplies the pet might need. If one normally boards their pet when they travel, reach out to the boarding facility to see if they have space to house the pet should they need them, and then be sure to arrange transportation of the pet to the boarding facility.
Pet supply stores are still considered essential, so people can stock up on pet items to ensure they have everything they need for the weeks and months ahead.
And, if they can’t currently afford those supplies, see us. We can help!