COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Today KRDO sat down via Zoom interview with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region to see how they're fairing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gretchen Pressley, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region's Community Relations Manager, answered our questions.
How is the Humane Society working to support owners to keep pets in their homes at this time?
We have a couple different programs that we’re using to help keep pets in their homes at this time. We’re trying to work with owners, as we do year round, but right now our biggest concern in the population is our shelter.
Right now, we’ve had it totally under control. But if this continues into the summer months, we see a huge increase in our population over the summer. It’s kitten season. We have lots of kittens and puppies coming in. There are more strays out and about, which just results in our population really skyrocketing during the summer months. So we’re just trying now to keep everything under control. Set up some policies to, again, just see fewer animals coming into our building than usual this time of year. So that we can maintain that population with our reduced staff and resources.
We’re really talking to every single family, so if it’s a food issue, we’re working with local pet food banks to help. If it’s medical issues, we’re working to get them the medical care they need. So we just encourage people to come talk to us if they really want to keep their animal but they’re just having hardships. So we’ll try really hard to work out a solution for you.
With many people facing economic uncertainty, do we expect more surrenders in the future?
What we see year-round is we always encourage everyone to do their research into the pet they’re hoping to adopt before adoption, so they can make sure that pet is going to be a good fit for your family. So we’re really hoping that not only are these pets going to be a comfort for these families during this time, but they’re going to be responsible pet owners and want to keep that pet long term.
We really don’t see our returns go up much more than a certain percentage year round, which is wonderful. It means our match-making is working, helping prepare people for having those pets in their home is working.
As of right now, we have not seen our return rate go up and we’re hopeful that will stay the same throughout the year.
How many pet adoptions did you see in the month of April this year compared to last year?
I don’t have exact numbers in front of me, and so the actual number itself is going to be lower. Because we’ve moved to adoptions by appointment only for most of the month of April. We’re only able to complete 18 adoptions per day maximum every single day, which is a lower number we’d be able to complete if we just had full-service adoptions. But what we have seen is that our appointments were booked out a week or two in advance of that time period, which is wonderful to see.
As of yesterday [April 30th], we moved back to first-come, first-serve adoptions. We’re still not able to complete as many adoptions as we normally would. Again, due to reduced staff and we’re only allowing about 10 adopters in the building at once, which is reducing the number of adoptions we can do.
But it was a very busy day yesterday and again we’re so excited to see those people coming in and adopting and finding new homes for those pets.
The reason we have fewer available for adoption is that we’re taking in a slightly reduced numbers of animals. Again, we’re helping people keep those pets in their homes. But we’re also sending a lot of animals into foster care right now to help them get ready for adoption and again to reduce the workload on our staff.
Tell us more about foster care.
We actually had a very big increase in our number of foster applications when the quarantine hit as well. We can’t thank the community enough for reaching out and wanting to foster with us.
What that looks like, is under-age kittens and puppies, any animals that need a little extra medical care and during the month of April when we couldn’t do spays and neuters, we were sending adult dogs into foster care until we could get them spayed and neutered and get them into those new homes. That was a great help for us. Again, we don’t want animals going out that are not spayed and neutered.
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed lately?
I think our services are just very different and we’re trying very hard to keep our staff safe and of course our adopters and clients safe who come through the building. We are limiting access to the building to 5 in our admissions in our Lost and Found Center and 10 in our Adoption Center. We are so thankful to the community for having patience during this time. We want to help you out as soon as possible.
What are the main factors for someone who surrenders a pet?
We’re seeing owner-surrenders for a lot of the same reasons we normally see owner-surrenders. People are moving. We still have people moving during this time. If they’re moving and not able to take their pets with them. If someone in their household has gotten sick, maybe lost their home. We have a lot of owner surrendered pets that way.
We’re still seeing those reasons that we see year-round of those animals, where they’re just not able to keep them. We are asking for everyone bringing a pet, if you found a stray or if you return a pet, to make an appointment as well so we can ask you some questions about why you’re surrendering and help you keep that pet if possible.
If not possible, of course we’re here to be a resource for the community and give that pet somewhere to go and the care they need.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We always ask people to look and see if they have the resources to adopt and do their research to adopt. But it’s really a pretty good time to adopt. Your home, your whole family can get together, getting your pet used to the new household. They can be a very big comfort during this time. So we’re really just so happy to see the community rise up and want to adopt these pets.
Every single one of the happy tails has been wonderful for our staff to see at this time. It makes it all worthwhile.
We’re so happy to be doing first-come, first-serve adoptions without those appointments. We do ask the community for your patience during this time. There might be a little bit of a wait, but we will get your family that new family member as soon as possible.
If you’re not able to adopt right now, we’re still losing revenue since so many of our services are not operating. If you’d like to make a donation to the homeless pets in our region, you can go to hsppr.org/donate. Thank you to the community for your support.