Together, we are enduring one of the most difficult times in recent history. In just a few short months, our entire world has changed, and it continues to change each day. Not knowing what will come tomorrow, next week, or next month has caused anxiety, fear, and panic among many.
Here at the shelter, some things are different, but many things are the same. Animals continue to come in, and while we are grateful that owner surrenders slowed to a near crawl over the past two months or so, stray pets and animal control cases are still coming through our doors every day. Thankfully, we have been able to maintain adoptions during this time, our fosters have stepped up to take animals into their homes as underage kittens start to flood in now that Kitten Season has officially begun, and some of our fabulous rescue partners are still pulling animals from us to place into their programs.
One big change is that our volunteers haven’t been able to come in since the stay at home order was put into place, so not seeing their faces every day has been an adjustment, and we cannot wait for the day when we can tell them they can come back! In the meantime, thanks to being able to keep our animal numbers low, our staff have been able to manage not only the normal cleaning and feeding routines, but have been able to provide the daily enrichment, walks, and socialization that the animals need and our volunteers typically provide. From ball pits (tennis balls in a baby pool) for our dogs, to spending time with our cats playing with laser pointers and fishing pole toys, to making enrichment toys for our small animals, to daily piggy bonding time in the barn with Thelma and Louis (two pot-bellied pigs looking for their forever home!), our dedicated team has been coming in to work each and every day with the purpose and intent of forging ahead and making each day as good as it can be for our animals!
From a business side, things are a little trickier. We still have all of our usual bills to pay – pet food, medical and surgical supplies, vaccines, utilities, insurance, building and equipment maintenance, staff wages, etc. And of course, like many other nonprofits, all of our fundraising events and activities so far this year have had to be canceled. Even the events planned for fall and winter are unknowns. Our everyday donations have also declined significantly, because people are out of work and unsure what the future brings.
In such a large scale crisis, it is hard to know what to do next, when sometimes just making it through the day seems like an accomplishment!
But like Mister Rogers taught us, I always look for the helpers. They’re everywhere, and they are the bright spot in a dark time. A specific example I’ll give is our appeal for pet food for our Pet Food Pantry, which is for Harford County residents who have fallen on hard times and need help with feeding their pet. In April, we posted a photo of the nearly-empty shelves of our Pantry, which are normally full of donated food from the community. The NEXT DAY our lobby was completely full of bags of dog and cat food! And it didn’t stop there. For the next week and a half, people were dropping off food at the shelter and we were getting truckloads from Amazon and Chewy from people who had ordered online and had it shipped here. One of those days we received three Amazon trucks full, with nearly 300 boxes of food! It was amazing, overwhelming (in a good way), and at one point actually became a bit of an inside joke…whenever an Amazon truck would start coming down our driveway, we’d all look at each other and laugh and wonder “how many boxes today?” But what an awesome response! We asked, and the community came forward – with quickness and compassion. People want to help!
So today I am asking, if you have the means to do so, please consider helping us now by making a tax-deductible* donation to help our animals, and help us continue to do this vital work to protect and care for vulnerable pets in our community that are abandoned, homeless, abused, and neglected. Thousands of these animals come through our doors every year, and we strive to provide not only the basics like food, water, and vet care, but also the TLC that they crave. Your donations make that possible, in every sense of the word. Without your help, our shelter cannot survive.
If you can’t make a donation, please know that we see you. We know you would help if you could, and we know you will help when you can. We are here for you if you need us now, because you have always been there for us when we needed you.
Thanks to all of you for supporting us in whatever ways that you do, be it by donating, following us on social media and sharing our posts, telling your friends and family about us and our programs, and all the other ways that you step up to help our animals. We appreciate you, and our animals are lucky to have friends like you!
*As you may know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law in March 2020. Included in this act were several provisions that enhance the benefit of charitable giving in 2020 to individuals and corporate taxpayers. Under the old rules, charitable contributions only benefited those that itemized their deductions. Generally, individual taxpayers would only itemize if their cumulative itemized deductions exceeded the annual standard deduction (in 2020, the standard deduction for a single taxpayer is $12,400 and taxpayers filing as married filing jointly is $24,800). The CARES Act adds a new “above-the-line” deduction, available in 2020 and future years, for up to $300 of cash contributions made to a qualified charitable organization. This deduction is in addition to, and does not take away from, the standard deduction.