Animal shelters see volunteer drop-off from COVID

Animal shelters are having a hard time recovering after the pandemic. According to NPR, shelters are struggling to get volunteers while being at maximum capacity. The Bowling Green area and surrounding counties have also experienced this same issue.

“One of the main reasons I was seeing (this) amongst animal welfare channels is because a lot of families did get new pets when the pandemic first started in 2020,” Wood County Humane Society’s Shelter Manager, Erin Moore, said.

In the NPR article, it shows one in five pet owning homes adopted a new pet during this time. The rate of forever homes and foster homes has not gone up in numbers as many shelters hoped they would for dogs and cats.

“There is never a shortage of animals in need of our help. Both on a local or national level.” Toledo Humane Society’s Development Manager, Abbey Hall, said.

“Our adoption rates have not changed. They have remained the same through the pandemic. I think this has to do with the fact that all of our medical care for the animals is done in house. But our intakes were affected. They increased, so we were dealing with full capacity in the shelter.”

On the flipside, The Wood County Humane Society adoption rates have decreased throughout the majority of the pandemic.

“While we were open at a satellite location offering limited services, we weren’t operating at our fullest. Had we not closed, I suspect our numbers would have been slightly lower still, as that was a nationwide trend in 2021,” Moore said.

Funding and volunteers are the driving force behind many of these shelters as government funding does not support many of these local businesses.

“The vast majority of animal shelters are funded through philanthropy, and they fundraise for their operations. There are no federal and state dollars that support shelter operations. And so the economic insecurity that is impacting so many industries is also weighing heavily on animal shelters,” the NPR article states.

Some families throughout the pandemic did not experience hardship in trying to adopt a new family member.

“My family has always wanted a dog, but never really had time to get one due to sports and stuff like that. We figured lockdown was the perfect time to get him, so we would have more time to train him and be around him,” Bowling Green resident Brooke Danna said.

With the increased time people are facing, the inclination to find new activities and urge to buy new pets can now be a consideration for many.

“Overall, we have a wonderful and supportive community that is always willing to help when we need them,” Hall said.

The Bowling Green Humane Society and surrounding areas hope to see an increase in pet adoptions throughout this new year. They say this will be accomplished by online marketing and mental health initiatives taken by the businesses, in an attempt to find these animals loving forever homes.