Humane society sees spike in fosters from COVID-19

An employee of the Waco Humane Society pets one of the many dogs the society shelters. This past week in response to COVID-19, the humane society has seen a spike in fosters and is below capacity of the amount of animals they can house for the first time in over a month. Lariat File Photo

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

The Humane Society of Central Texas has seen a spike in fostering this past week. Despite residents being stuck at home, unable to go to their workplace or classes, many turned to the humane society.

Executive director of the humane society Dr. Paula Rivadeneira said that adoptions haven’t necessarily increased, but fostering has, which is just as helpful. The shelter takes in about 20 to 30 new animals every day, and they are usually at full capacity. In order to keep animals off of the euthanasia list, they need to be able to get the same amount of animals out each day and into homes.

“It’s always completely full here but because so many people are coming in to foster we are actually not at full capacity anymore, which means animals are not ending up on a euthanization list,” Rivadeneira said. “Right now we are at 62% capacity which is amazing, ever since I have been here, which has been about five weeks, we have been at capacity everyday, until this past week.”

The shelter is seeing more activity throughout the day, instead of the after-work rush, so appointments can be spread out with ample time for people to make sure they’re getting the right animal.

“The cool thing about fostering is that it is temporary, so you can have an animal for a few days or weeks. People are at home, and it is a good time to be hanging out with a dog if you haven’t had one, or maybe your work schedule or school schedule is crazy and you can’t have a dog regularly. People are taking the opportunity to have an animal in their life, and it’s amazing how many people are coming in to be able to foster,“ Rivadeneira said.

Winston Salem, N.C. sophomore Haley Chadwick has recently fostered a dog with her boyfriend from the humane society and said she is expecting to adopt him.

“I was thinking how it could be sweet to adopt an old dog and give them their best life while we’re stuck inside away from others. One of our friends told us how she is fostering from the Humane Society of Central Texas. They provide food, a kennel and toys. You keep the dog basically until it gets adopted or we have to give him back. Which we aren’t planning on,” Chadwick said. “I moved in with [my boyfriend] because none of my roommates are back, so we thought why not get a dog right now? We have so much time to walk and love on this dog because we can do classes at home.”

Many students foster animals, and Rivadeneira said that you could bring home an animal that same day with the proper credentials. Fosters have to be at least 18 years old, have a valid ID and have written approval for dogs from a landlord if you’re a renter. She hopes fosters will keep the dog for four to six weeks during the current pandemic though.

There has been concern from visitors that the COVID-19 virus can transfer on dog fur. Rivadeneira said the shelter takes every precaution they can, following social distance measures. They recommend giving dogs a bath when they get home. The shelter has been very fortunate to not have had any cases of the virus among staff or visitors.