Like many organizations and businesses, animal shelters in the U.S. closed to the public in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While this could have meant animals were to ride out the pandemic only in the shelter, across the country, pets of all shapes and sizes began getting adopted and fostered in record numbers. In the Upstate, this holds true, according to two local shelters, with one having all possible fosters placed with families and the other seeing 75% of all its animals fostered.
“We’re so lucky to be part of such an amazing, supportive and compassionate community,” says Julia Brunelle, digital marketing and events manager at the Greenville Humane Society.
Since more people have more time at home due to offices being closed in favor of remote work, many community members reached out to bring a pet home as a companion.
“When we first sent out our plea for foster homes [at the beginning of the pandemic], we had over 400 people reach out and say they would take in an animal,” Brunelle says. The Humane Society found fosters for all the animals that could be fostered.
The support has provided benefits to the animals and to the people taking care of them. Fostering, for example, is not only helping provide pets with a home while they transition out of the shelter, it’s also allowing shelters to concentrate on spending time with animals that may need medical care or other assistance, says Paula Church, community relations coordinator at Greenville County Animal Care. Church says that currently 75% of their animals are with foster families, higher than usual.
Fostering is a great way to help find forever homes for pets. About 40% of the people who foster an animal end up adopting it, Brunelle estimates. “Pets always need people,” she says. “And people always need pets.”
And with so many people fostering, Church says it provides an opportunity for pets to experience what it’s like to be in a family and may lead to better matches between animals and people in the adoption process.
While there is a possibility that families may realize they can’t adequately care for a pet after the pandemic subsides and they return to work and school, Church wants people to know that her organization is there to help.
“We’re not going to leave you high and dry. We want to be a resource. We want to see our adoptions be successful,” she says. Greenville County Animal Care has vets on staff and an animal food bank. “We don’t want [people] to consider that they might have to give [their pets] up because they can’t afford to feed them.”
Both shelters are only open by appointment. For more information about the Greenville Humane Society, visit https://www.greenvillehumane.com/. For Greenville County Animal Care, call 864-467-3950 to schedule an appointment and call 864-467-3992 for the animal food bank.