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Beacon Senior News

Caring for your pets during COVID-19

Aug 31, 2020 01:31PM ● By Joyce Alexander

Trick for a treat: Dog Behavior Counselor Laura Taylor prepares to reward a shelter dog while her office mate, Community Health Liaison Ashley DiGrado, observes.

Roice-Hurst programs help keep you and your pets together

When times are hard, we can always turn to our pets for comfort and emotional support. But what happens when job loss, vulnerability and fear due to the pandemic impair our ability to care for them?

Since 1963, Roice-Hurst Humane Society (RHHS) in Grand Junction has helped place thousands of displaced pets with loving human companions. In recent years, the nonprofit expanded its focus on reducing the number of pets being surrendered to the shelter by providing pet owners with resources and support services.

“We expect the animal sheltering model nationwide to change in ways that focus on the people aspect of how animals end up in shelters and on keeping pets with loving families,” said Executive Director Anna Stout.

Just as COVID-19 has impacted millions of pet owners and animal welfare agencies nationwide, RHHS is also facing its share of unprecedented challenges.

“Our biggest needs right now are monetary support and fostering or adopting a pet,” said Community Health Liaison Ashley DiGrado.

When the pandemic began, RHHS received more than 100 applications from interested foster homes willing to temporarily house pets in case the shelter received an influx of animal surrenders. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened, but RHHS stands prepared as government pandemic assistance programs come to an end and pet owners find themselves in difficult financial situations.

“We know how important the human/animal bond is,” said DiGrado. “We’re trying to keep animals at home with their people by providing resources. Especially for seniors, animals offer a lot of unconditional love and support.”

Help is available

RHHS’ Animal Resource Center (ARC) emphasizes the organization’s mission of promoting bonds between pets and their people by offering low-cost behavior counseling, training classes and crisis services to the public. Below is a list of resources designed to help keep pets and their people together during the pandemic:

Pet Pantry - The pet pantry provides dog and cat food along with other pet-related items for pet parents who’ve fallen on hard times. Supplies vary and quantities are limited. Delivery is available upon request for high-risk or homebound individuals. You can apply online at www.rhhumanesociety.org/pet-pantry-application. RHHS also distributes pet food and other items through programs such as Meals on Wheels and Catholic Outreach.

Crisis boarding program - RHHS offers short-term pet boarding for qualifying individuals who are facing crisis and are at risk of being separated from their pet. Acceptance into the program is based on income and a long-term commitment to care for the pet.

Low-cost vaccination clinics- Make sure your dogs’ and cats’ vaccinations are up to date at these low-cost vaccination clinics available by appointment only. Paying the $16 exam fee in advance reserves your spot. Dogs can receive vaccines for distemper, rabies, Bordetella and leptospirosis, and can be tested for heartworm. (Heartworm preventive is also available). Cats can be vaccinated for parvo and rabies and tested for FELV/FIV.

Corona Care Packs - Corona Care Packs contain items tailored to your pet’s gender, age and size, and include toys, treats and a list of fun activities. Delivery is available in the greater Grand Junction area. Suggested donations vary by the size of packs.

Planning for your pets - People often consider family and friends in their wills, but what about pets? Now is the time to write directives to ensure future caregivers have all the information and tools necessary for an animal’s care in case you are hospitalized or are otherwise unable to care for them. RHHS makes it easy with sample directives and forms available on their website.

Out of concern for the health and safety of visitors, volunteers, staff and animals, the shelter amended its hours and adoptions are by appointment only. For more information about programs and to schedule services, call 434-7337 or visit www.rhhumanesociety.org.

Show your support for shelter pets

Roice-Hurst Humane Society is committed to Western Slope pet owners and their pets. To continue their life-saving work, the 501(c)3 nonprofit largely relies on support from volunteers and monetary gifts. To donate or volunteer, call 434-7337. Donations are tax-deductible. The shelter recently reopened to volunteers on a limited basis with new systems to promote social distancing.

Items like pet food (wet and dry), treats, toys, cat litter, nursing bottles, cat carriers, blankets and cleaning supplies are also in high demand. Visit www.rhhumanesociety.org/wish-list to learn more.