Animal Shelters Empty As People, Now Home, Seek Canine Companionship
If there is a winner from the current COVID-19 pandemic, it might be the nation’s dogs. Across West Virginia, shelters are empty as people, now at home, look for companionship in the form of canine friends.
“During one couple-day event, we actually placed one hundred and sixty-seven animals into foster homes. Those fosters have become adopters which is fantastic news,” said Holly Goheen, director of development for the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association. KCHA is one of more than 120 organizations nationwide participating in an initiative called “empty the shelters” in which adoptions are partially sponsored by an animal advocacy organization.
But social distancing guidelines have resulted in some challenges for the shelter.
“One change that we have made during the pandemic is we’ve been doing adoptions by appointment, and a lot of adoptions over the phone,” said Goheen.
So when people like Derek Lambert, a Charleston resident, come to pick up their new pups, they are not allowed in the building. Lambert said he and his partner had been looking for a shelter dog for a while.
“One morning, the director sent me a picture of that puppy, and asked if we wanted to come see
it. And I said we’d be there in five minutes!”
Lambert said they stood outside in the rain to meet the black lab mix they ended up adopting and naming Orion.
“And, I mean, as soon as we held him we were like, “Yeah, we’re taking him home.””
Goheen said there were 371 animals adopted in March and April this year -- an increase of nearly 50 adoptions compared to the same time last year. While the shelter is constantly taking in new animals, according to Facebook, dogs are adopted or fostered quickly and the shelter remains mostly empty.