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Mid-valley rescue shelters continue finding pets homes despite pandemic difficulties
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Mid-valley rescue shelters continue finding pets homes despite pandemic difficulties

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A Corvallis 7-year-old went to Heartland Humane Society on Thursday with her family and a list of questions.

What kind of dog is it? How should we prepare our house for a new dog? Does it get along with other dogs?

Juanita Gomez, an animal care supervisor at the shelter, introduced Aayenda Asmatey-Stoll and her 4-year-old sister, Satori, to the dog in question — a brick-red rescue named Cricket — and answered all the questions while the girls doted over the pooch.

Aside from the girls, their parents and Gomez standing outside and wearing face masks, it was business as usual.

Pet adoptions throughout the mid-valley haven’t paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been encouraged.

“I think people are at home and bored like, ‘God, I could walk a dog today,’” said Emily James, the humane society’s development director.

James said business like dog adoptions have been pretty steady. Even temporary care of rescued animals has persisted despite the pandemic, which helps because the shelter is understaffed.

Kristi Hart and her daughter Kendall have been helping foster cats at Heartland Humane for the last five years. They came Thursday to pick up Darwin, a kitten who’s too young to be put up for adoption just yet.

Fostering animals out lets shelters expand their capacities, allow time for the animals to be spayed or neutered and expose potential pets to safe human interaction before they’re ready for permanent adoption.

“It’s kind of like a baby — you kind of love on it then give it back,” Hart said. “We love kittens and we like to help out.”

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She added that the pandemic is probably increasing the need for compassionate pet owners and fosters because, with there not being much to do, pet abuse could be on the rise.

Heartland Humane usually has around 50 active fosters at any given time, James said. The shelter provides anything fosters need for the pets, from food to toys.

But business has taken a hit in some places, like the humane society’s thrift store. The store has remained closed since March 16, resulting in around 30% of business being missed.

“It’s been really rough on us for staffing and expenses,” James said.

But keeping up adoptions has been worth it. She noted that although fewer animals have been coming in their doors recently, the usual amount have still been exiting with a new family and life ahead of them.

Cricket, who went up for adoption on Heartland Humane’s website last week, had six people in line eager to offer her a forever home. The Asmatey-Stolls were up first.

“We’d like for this dog to have a really nice home and I think we can do that,” said Yalda Asmatey, the girls’ mother. “It’s something we’ve talked about for some time.”

Asmatey said their family used to have a cat, but she developed an allergy while she was pregnant for the second time. She said having a dog would be a good opportunity to teach both of her daughters respect for nature and other living creatures.

“We’re really excited about coming to see the dog and the possibility of having a dog,” said Asmatey’s husband Jonathan Stoll.

That excitement was written all over the girls’ faces. When their parents asked, the girls said they didn’t mind that she was a rescue with an unknown history.

“A dog is a dog,” Aayenda said.

Reporter Nia Tariq can be reached at nia.tariq@lee.net.

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