“The power of pets is amazing. Pets can help keep us healthy and improve our physical and mental health. Especially at a stressful time like this, a furry friend at home can be the answer!” says Katie McEntee, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Director of Adoptions. “Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Dogs keep you active and increase opportunities to exercise and get outside. Walking with your dog can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. If you don’t have a pet at home right now, you can ‘borrow’—foster—one of ours!”
Amid the search for support, companionship and moments of joy, people find that animals play an incredible role in helping them through challenging times, McEntee notes, and the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) has been quickly evolving its services to address the needs of people and pets alike. The physical doors may be shut for the time being, but their hearts remain open.
“In light of our recent closure, we’re delighted to introduce SASF Roadside Adoptions & Fosters—a program designed to help our pets find their foster and forever homes in a sanitary, social-distance-friendly fashion!” says McEntee. “Simply go to our website, pick your forever or foster pet and wait for your phone to ring!”
To take part in this program, SASF says, you must fill out an application and be approved, and then one of their adoption coordinators will contact you for an adoption/foster interview and to discuss your possible matches. They also ask that people please do not show up to the shelter unannounced—all adoptions/fosters will be done by appointment only—and “we kindly ask that anyone feeling under the weather, not partake in this program. Please use your best judgment. We will meet you curbside to introduce you to our pet(s) and bring all pet supplies directly to you! We will still be implementing interactions for adopters/fosters who already own dogs—all of which can be done outside in a large area in order to limit social interactions and gathering between us humans.”
“Roadside Adoptions/Foster Program is just an example of the agile thinking and creativity of our employees here at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation,” adds Barbara Maresca, Interim Co-Executive Director of SASF. “All of our staff and volunteers demonstrate their dedication to the animals in our community each and every day, and especially at a time like this. I myself am extremely proud to work with such wonderful people and such a great organization.”
The program has been working out incredibly well so far, McEntee adds, noting that safety for all is the top priority. “We had to revamp our program to ensure safety during this time. We must keep our staff safe so they can continue to care for our pets in our shelter, and we have to keep our adopters and fosters safe so they can care for their pets. We are not allowing the public inside our doors. Usually at our shelter it is the more visitors, the merrier, but we needed to come up with a way to still get pets out of the shelter and into homes in a safe way. So we went curbside, like the restaurants—we bring out pets like food right to your car! We are doing as much as we can over the phone to limit human interaction.”
In addition to the roadside program, SASF remains a community resource via their wellness center and mobile clinic, both essential businesses, and they are always here to share advice for owners to ensure an animal’s well-being at home.
“While at home and isolating, stay positive and happy—you know your pet will,” McEntee says. “Try a new hiking trial or walking path. Go outside and have an adventure with your furry friend. Everyone is reporting that the pets are happy to have their people at home. Obviously, they do not understand what is going on, but they are thrilled to have their owners working from home. Kobe, a golden retriever and SASF alumni, is making sure his little humans stay on top of their 7th grade science. We have seen the cutest photos of pets at home with their families, building forts for their dogs and other fun activities to occupy the time at home. A big message to our community should be to be prepared. If you were to get sick, who will care for your pet? Having a game plan is very important.”
As has been the case with many other individuals and organizations, McEntee and the SASF team have been inspired by how they’ve seen the community as a whole coming together to help one another in these tough times. “Our community is amazing, and we are so lucky to have their support,” she says. “We have been overwhelmed by the number of responses to help our shelter during this time. We received so many applications to foster and adopt. Our community has been supporting our staff as well—calling and sending goodies to help keep our spirts high. Our staff is amazing and so dedicated. I am lucky to work with such amazing, animal-centric people.”
For the SASF in-house clinic, call 631-728-7387 ext. 266. For the mobile clinic, call 631-566-8870. For information on the SASF Roadside Adoptions & Fosters program, visit southamptonanimalshelter.com/adopt.