The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably left its mark on every facet of society, and the world of animal welfare is no exception. This unprecedented crisis has forced animal shelters and welfare organizations to adapt and reinvent their operations to survive and thrive amidst the chaos. This blog post provides a deep dive into the impact of the pandemic on these organizations, drawing insights from a riveting podcast discussion with Nanette McCann, executive director of Homeward Pet Adoption Center, and Corey Regnerus-Kell, general manager for animal services at the Royal New Zealand SPCA.
The pandemic has compelled animal shelters to make significant operational changes. These range from reducing the number of animals in shelters to embracing fear-free activities to mitigate stress and anxiety among animals. Amid the crisis, shelters like Homeward Pet Adoption Center and the Royal New Zealand SPCA have had to reinvent their adoption procedures, implementing pre-application processes and programs like Home to Home for owner surrenders.
Navigating these changes, however, has not been without challenges. Shelters grapple with managing an influx of animals in need, ensuring their welfare, and maintaining staff morale in the face of these testing times. Despite these hurdles, McCann and Regneris-Kell share heartfelt stories of resilience, demonstrating how they and their teams have persevered in their commitment to animal welfare.
Volunteer engagement, a crucial aspect of animal shelter operations, has also seen significant changes. The pandemic has had a profound impact on volunteer numbers, with some shelters experiencing a drastic drop in volunteer participation due to health concerns and financial strains. Despite these setbacks, organizations are striving to adapt and find ways to maintain engagement with their volunteer communities.
The pandemic has also altered the fundraising landscape for animal welfare organizations. Traditional fundraising methods have had to give way to digital services and contactless payments, presenting both challenges and opportunities. While the shift to digital has opened new avenues for fundraising, it has also required organizations to adapt to new technologies and find creative ways to engage donors.
The conversation also sheds light on the profound and enduring human-animal connection, a bond that has been particularly poignant during the pandemic. As McCann and Regnerus-Kell share personal anecdotes about their deep-rooted passion for animal welfare, they underscore the significant role animals play in our lives and the responsibility we bear towards their welfare.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on animal welfare organizations, prompting strategic shifts, operational changes, and adaptations in volunteer engagement and fundraising. Despite the challenges, the resilience and dedication of these organizations and the humans behind them have ensured that they continue to provide essential services and uphold their commitment to animal welfare. The insights shared by McCann and Regnerus-Kell offer a thought-provoking reflection on the resilience of animal welfare organizations in the face of adversity and the enduring human-animal connection.
Guests: Born and raised in Florida, USA, Corey Regnerus-Kell, has embarked on a journey with animals since he was young. While working towards becoming a Veterinarian, he worked as a Veterinary Technician for general practice as well as Small Animal Emergency Medicine throughout several veterinary clinics in South and Centra Florida. Most recently he was appointed as the General Manager for RNZ SPCA in New Zealand looking after the 29 centres, the National Animal Welfare Inspectorate and National Desexing (spay & neuter) Programme. He lives on a small block with his husband and son and their real life ‘McDonald’s Farm’ with everything from Ostriches down to Guinea Pigs!
Nanette McCann joined Homeward Pet as the Executive Director in 2018. It was Homeward Pet’s reputation for community engagement and volunteer dedication that spoke to Nanette’s personal values over her 30+ year career as a non-profit professional. She proudly leads a staff of 27 full and part time passionate welfare professionals, successfully partners with her 18 member board of directors and has set the goal of Homeward Pet owning its forever home by 2031. Nanette is the mom of five girls, ages 32 to 8, and two fur-babies, Frankie and Ursula.
Book Recommendations: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Migel Ruiz
and Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
(This blog post was based on an AI generated script and edited by me for accuracy and additional information)