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Yesterday, Governor Little issued a mandatory Statewide Stay-Home Order. This Order requires all residents in Idaho to remain at home for a minimum of 21 days except for essential activities.
Animal sheltering and veterinary services are considered an essential activity under the Governor’s Statewide Stay-Home Order. The Idaho Humane Society’s facilities provide essential animal health and public safety functions. COVID-19 carries the possibility of creating a significant animal welfare crisis across the country in shelters experiencing reduced capacity for care due to staffing shortages, the need for social distancing, and reduced outcome opportunities via adoption, foster or rescue.
Precedence was provided by similar orders in effect across the country and by the government-mandated responsibilities under FEMA to ensure that veterinary and animal shelter resources are available to attend to the well-being of household pets during disaster situations and other emergency events.
To mitigate the short and long-term effects of this pandemic, the Idaho Humane Society has already been implementing the following:
We are continuing to provide live outcome options for the pets we shelter including appointment-based adoptions, return to field operations for cats, and we continue to place pets into foster homes. So far, our Treasure Valley community has responded selflessly to counter the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on companion animal welfare. Adoption and foster rates have exceeded the number of intakes to our facility and we have continued to save over 90 percent of the dogs and cats sheltered.
However, anticipated personnel and supply resource depletion dictate that essential services and lifesaving capacity be preserved by continuing to reduce the number of animals in custody as quickly as possible. This is being done by expediting the movement of animals to adoptive or foster homes.
Idaho Humane Society intends to stay the course: practicing social distancing to keep our staff healthy and severely limiting the number of people allowed into our Dorman Street and Bird Street facilities.
Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our team members and our community. Essential animal care must carry on, but some functions will be performed in new and different ways including teleconferencing and online communications. Communication is essential and each day brings new circumstances that we must navigate as best we can – in some cases with little or no precedent to guide us.
We are incredibly grateful and gratified (but not surprised) by the outpouring of support from our community – manifested in many ways from owners willing to forego relinquishment of owned pets at this time; the willingness to adopt or foster; and donations of money and supplies to our facilities. While we don’t know exactly what lies ahead in the days to come, we will continue to do our best to continue to fulfill our mission to protect our community’s companion animals.
Jeff Rosenthal, DVM
Chief Executive Officer