By Marcy Eckhardt
La Plata County Humane Society
2020 will forever be remembered as the Year of COVID-19, but for those of us in animal welfare, it will always be synonymous with the year people showed their best selves. When animal shelters, rescues and adoption agencies became recipients of the best in people rather than just cleaning up from the worst. It is the year that saw fewer strays, more adoptions and donations and more human concern than ever before.
There’s something profound in the fact that when times are hard, good people show their best selves. When calls of concern and check-ins become normal and when all we have to do is ask for necessary supplies to receive them. Perhaps it’s similar to when someone suffers a personal loss and friends and family surround them; the loss of so much in 2020 has caused people to embrace their pets and the caretakers who have continued by their sides.
Animal welfare agencies often work in the periphery, rarely considered unless needed or drama’s happening. Although community animal lovers often step up, in 2020, we saw everyone do it. As people stayed home, they chose not to do it alone and adopted. As shelters were put into lockdown, foster families stepped up and provided temporary housing. Often when asked to bring the animals back, they said they had already settled in and there was no need.
We had more kittens, more need for fosters, more puppies, more broken dogs and more need for supplies and financial help than in years past, and people stepped up. Practically every day a bag of food shows up on our doorstep. And we’ve had a record low number of stray dogs come in. When people stay home, so do their pets!
The staff has been able to spend more time on each adoption, and those animals that needed extra focus are now able to get it. And we were able to achieve an empty cattery; something rarely if ever seen. For a moment, we were able to adopt out all our cats, every cat that needed a home found one; that’s what we’ll remember about 2020.
Few things have been easy or good about this year, but how people have gone to their pets is one of them. Apparently, when times get tough, the tough go to their pets, and I for one think it says something great about humanity and every one of us.
Marcy Eckhardt is director of pranaDOGS Behavior and Rehab Center and is the behavior consultant and trainer for La Plata County Humane Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.