The COVID-19 pandemic has put many businesses and organizations at a sudden halt. One of these organizations includes Marin Humane, the local humane society for Novato, located in Bel Marin Keys. After Mar. 16th, 2020 the shelter had to shut down and was only allowed to have limited staff and volunteers. This led to a change in the way adoptions have been handled.
“The rest of the Adoption Staff is working remotely,” Marin Humane Adoption Supervisor Ruthie Tolleson said. “We are on the phone all day making calls to potential adopters, answering emails from potential adopters, setting up adoptions and then finalizing them at the shelter etc. Essentially we are having in-depth phone conversations with people to find out what they are looking for so that we can make the best matches.”
With the shelter closed, Marin Humane has had to adapt to different forms of adoptions to be able to find “forever homes” for their animals. With limited staff, they were trying to keep a specific number of animals at the shelter.
“During the pandemic we were trying to keep the animals at the shelter low and have most of them in foster homes but now we are getting to the point where we have more animals in the shelter than foster homes, luckily the other shelters in the area were at the same state us as since we weren’t accepting owner surrenders,” Humane Education Coordinator Julia Cole said.
As more animals come to their shelter, the staff involved have been working to try to find every animal a permanent home.
“This process has been great because our return rates or owner surrenders have not increased past the normal 4% due to the fact that adoptions and our doctors work very closely with foster families to make a perfect match,” Cole said. “Since we closed we have done 896 adoptions which is only down from this time last year by about 4%.”
Owner surrenders are situations in which a family adopts an animal that doesn’t fit with their family dynamic and wishes to return them to the shelter. Since the shelter has stopped taking in owner surrenders they have had an increase in their Private Rehoming Program.
“Private Rehoming is when someone wants to surrender their animal but they can keep it until they find it a new home versus the normal owner surrendering because of reasons such as moving or they are out of options,” Cole said. “During COVID-19 there has been an increase in Private Rehoming applications.”
The only cases in which the shelter is currently taking animals from homes include fire evacuees and people being treated for COVID-19.
Another predicament affecting Marin Humane due to them being closed is the amount of donations they are receiving at the moment.
“Money donations have been a great help recently since we are helping families with fire evacuations,” Cole said. “We are down in the sense that we couldn’t hold fundraisers such as ‘Woof Stock’ and our gala is now online.”
“Woof Stock” is a dog-friendly benefit that celebrates love for animals. This event is an annual music festival that has live music, dancing, food, Kids Zone activities, and vendor booths featuring local merchants. It is their most attended event that has all proceeds going to benefiting the animals at Marin Humane. There is also a gala for donors and community members to celebrate animals who found their “forever homes”, featuring stories of animals helped by peoples’ support and a Fund-a-Need that helps save thousands of additional animals. These events bring in donations that Marin Humane is now processing without.
“The best way to help us is by donating money,” Cole said. “That way we can buy the items we really need. This can be done through our website, marinhumane.org/donate.”