By Robert Albrecht
Sedona AZ (April 24, 2020) – “This past month, we have been in regular contact with hundreds of other shelters across America in addition to leaders in the Animal Welfare industry. We have been learning what they are going through so we can prepare. One of the most important things we have learned is that as the infection rate increases, so does the number of animals that are ending up in shelters. The main reasons for this are because the owner has been hospitalized, died, or can no longer financially care for their animal. The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet peaked- it is expected to continue spreading at this time”, states Sarah Porter, Volunteer Coordinator and Interim Director of Operations for the Humane Society of Sedona.
The Humane Society of Sedona is in a unique position to be able to act now to not only prevent the spread of the virus to our staff and volunteers; but also, to help our community. We are learning what has been working from shelters that are in the areas of wide community-spread. These are several recommendations that we have put in place that have helped keep their shelters going in these perilous times.
We cannot accept animals unless they are in DIRE NEED- This is defined as sick, injured, dangerous, or in a dangerous situation for the animal. We are offering to do courtesy posts on social media for owner surrenders, but they must remain in the home until they can be adopted. Also, we have been supplying food for the pet if it is a financial issue. For found animals/strays that are healthy, we have been encouraging the finder to keep the animal and we will do a post for them as well as add it to our website. We are doing everything we can to help people re-home their pets without bringing them into the shelter. We are looking into several other resources to help more with this. In the areas that got hit hard by COVID-19, shelters were flooded with animals. We are clearing out our shelter as much as possible to prepare for this.
We are suspending the renting of traps currently. This reduces the amount of people coming into the shelter. Also, the number of things that need to be sanitized.
We are suspending in-person pet licensing unless it is with an adoption. We have been encouraging people to mail it in or do it over the phone when at all possible. We are looking to see if this service can be added to our website.
We are suspending shopping at the “This & That” shop in our lobby area at this time, and the two thrift stores will remain closed to prevent exposure. The thrift stores are not taking donations currently to limit human-to-human contact. The two thrift store managers are working on trying to sell items online.
We have changed our Adoption Counseling process- We are greatly restricting the number of people that physically enter the building. All visitors must have an appointment. When they call, we go through an initial screening with them, to reduce the face time the staff needs to spend asking these questions. We then space the appointments out an hour apart to give us time to sanitize between each appointment. Dog introductions are now only being done in the play yard by the front parking lot. All the adoption paperwork is done there as well. We then sanitize the entire area after the appointment is over. For cats, we have visitors immediately wash their hands upon entering the building. They are brought directly to the cat they wish to see, and the introduction is done there. The adoption paperwork is done at the Front Desk. The room the visitor was in as well as any surface between the cat room and the front desk that could be touched. The Front Desk personnel sanitizes the lobby.
When visitors are making an appointment, we are telling them they must come wearing a mask and should be prepared to have their temperature taken. We are making sure they understand that we cannot conduct appointments or allow entry to the building to any visitor not wearing a mask or refusing to have their temperature taken. We are sanitizing between each use of the thermometer. We do not have enough masks to supply visitors with masks currently. As we can get more cloth masks, we can lend them to visitors to use during their appointment then launder them afterward. At this time, because we do not have enough to do this, they must bring their own.
Also, just a mention about the masks: New masks should be dropped off at the shelter to the attention of Antonio or Victoria. Please call first so you can leave them at the front door and will not have to enter the building. We do still need more washable masks as we are unable to get the N95 type. Our washer decided this was a great time to break down and will not be serviced until next week (that is the earliest repair appointment we could get), so we have no ability to launder at the shelter. Having enough masks to make it until the repair is ideal. At this time, some of the staff and volunteers have been doing laundry at home- but you can imagine the hesitation to bring in outside laundry into your personal home considering the very real possibility that it could have COVID-19 on it. We do not want to put them at any unnecessary risk.
We just introduced two new areas on our website www.humanesocietyofsedona.org. The first is several links that will help you prepare a “pet directive” or plan for your pet if something were to happen to you. Especially important information and reduces the stress on the animals and on the individuals that have been chosen to care for your pets in case of an emergency or sickness. The second area to look for is our “community survey” which is a key information gathering document that will give us an idea of how you would like to see the Humane Society of Sedona address the needs of our community. Please take a moment to give us your input.
We are taking care of the animals and ourselves and we appreciate all the support we receive from our community. GivingTuesday (May 5) is coming up soon and any monetary or food donations will be welcome. You can donate at www.humanesocietyofsedona.org/donate, by phone at (928) 282-4679 or mail to Humane Society of Sedona at 2115 Shelby Drive, Sedona, AZ 86336.