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Animal Adoptions Increase in the Wake of COVID-19

Photography Provided

When the country began systematically shutting down last spring, life for many of us felt surreal. None of us knew exactly what was happening or what was to come. As plans got cancelled, hugging became prohibited, and many people shifted to working and learning from home, one thing became clear – many of us with extra love in our hearts and time on our hands were eager to fill the void with something furry. 

“We were so worried about the animals once the shelter closed on March 20 due to COVID-19,” says Tanya F. King, who volunteers at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter. 

Adoptions were halted, but thankfully individuals interesting in fostering stepped up.

“We had several fosters come to our aid, which meant the world to us,” King says. “In fact, most of them secured holds while being fostered, through friends or acquaintances of their foster families, and were adopted immediately upon reopening.”

My family was among those who chose to expand our litter by adopting brother and sister tabby kittens, Aspen and Luna. In the past we only added one pet at a time, but this is 2020 where nothing makes sense, so instead of overanalyzing our decision, we went for it. Now each person in our four-member family has a cat to call their own, as we already had two rescued felines. After the pain of online learning and rarely venturing outside the house throughout the past six months, it felt good to experience joy again by way of a cuddly kitty.

Billie Jo Weatherford, who has been fostering animals for 15 years, currently fosters for Creekside Animal Rescue, Inc., an entirely foster-based rescue organization made up of a team that not only helps healthy, adoptable pets, but also rescues elder, hospice, and special-needs animals. 

Snowball, a beautiful, loving American Eskimo dog, was rescued in February from a Northern Indiana puppy mill. 

“I fell in love with her early on,” Weatherford says. 

Those at the puppy mill informed her that the dog was probably pregnant. The plan was to obtain an ultrasound in mid-March, but the pandemic forced many vet offices to close. Snowball was indeed pregnant, and on a stormy night in April, Weatherford helped Snowball deliver what Weatherford affectionately calls “eight snowflakes.”

“All the snowflakes were so special, and stayed with me in foster care until they were old enough for vetting, and finally their adoption,” Weatherford says.

The runt of the litter, Pearl, was born blind, so Weatherford took Pearl for one-on-one training with Becky Davis at Speck’s Pet Supplies in Avon to determine the extent of her limitations. Muffin’s Halo, a company that makes halos to help guide blind dogs, graciously donated a halo so Pearl could run, jump and play without bumping into dangerous objects. Pearl learned to map a room and follow her owner through the house. 

“While she’ll have challenges in life, I believe she will easily overcome most obstacles and will be forever loved as God created her – perfect,” says Weatherford, noting that the dog’s hearing and sense of smell are remarkable. “Pearl [renamed Chilly by her owner] is doing great. Chilly’s owner says she’s an amazing dog.” 

Weatherford, who currently sits on the board of the Hendricks County Humane Society where the primary focus is on spaying and neutering, maintains that she didn’t save Snowball and her puppies – she says it’s the other way around.

“She saved me throughout this terrible pandemic,” says Weatherford, who finds fostering to be extremely rewarding. “It’s an amazing feeling to help these innocent little creatures learn to trust and love in preparation for their forever homes. It’s also amazing to see the families embrace adopting a pet.”

King recalls the whirlwind of adoptions the week after the shelter reopened in May. 

“People said they were working from home and home schooling, and found it the perfect time to add a new family member because they could be home with them during those critical adjustment times,” King says.

Ayesha Ali Khan normally volunteers at the local hospital’s front desk area, but she has not worked since the pandemic began. Her family felt it was time to adopt again, and when they came across a tiny calico cat, they fell in love. 

“Being the tiniest and the neediest one seemed the right choice, and of course she stole my heart,” Khan says. 

Katie McLaughlin, a Petco employee, is thrilled that so many cats fostered in-store are finding good homes. 

“Some things are still the same though, like the fact that kittens tend to be adopted before adult cats do,” she adds.

If you are looking to welcome a new furry addition into your home, visit the Hendricks County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page to view the “Adoptable Dog” and “Adoptable Cats” albums. 

Hendricks County Animal Shelter is located at 250 East Campus Boulevard in Danville. For more information, call 317-745-9250.

Learn more about Creekside Animal Rescue at creeksiderescue.org.

Forever-Home Success Stories

Dallas was surrendered, adopted, and surrendered again for being too clingy. He was depressed at the shelter and was shutting down. As the shelter was closed due to COVID-19, he was placed in a foster home for a few weeks until he was adopted. He’s flourishing in his foster home, and is happy and well loved.

Georgia had been surrendered a few months before the shelter closed. She was timid at first but quickly attached herself to people when they paid attention to her. She was also becoming depressed in the shelter, and went to a foster home during the shutdown as well. When the shelter reopened, her foster home returned her to the shelter, and she became even more depressed. Lucci’s House Bully Rescue pulled Georgia, placed her in a foster home, and she was adopted. Her new family calls her a blessing, and the sweetest girl.

Shadow has adapted well to his new feline siblings. “Giving a homeless animal a forever loving place to live is a wonderful thing to do,” his owner says. “This is my fourth cat from a shelter over the past several years.”

Otis loves long walks, bacon treats and naps, according to his family. We feel you, Otis!

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