By Pete Zamplas
Edneyville – Blue Ridge Humane Society (BRHS) in Henderson County is linking adoptable pets with people extra lonely during these quarantine-restricted times, and spurring people to organize fund drive parties for BRHS on Sept. 19.
“Everyone is forced to quarantine, and hunker down,” BRHS Executive Director Angela Prodrick said. “People have said it’s the perfect time, to introduce or reintroduce a pet into their lives. Many have more time at home,” if they are working less in an office. “They also said they felt lonely.”
This allows gradual adjustment for the animal and its owner, Prodrick said. “We say it takes an animal two or three months, to get used to a new house.” This is a positive transition, she emphasized. “Animals can feel stressed at the shelter, with many other animals around. In a new home, it helps them decompress.”
BRHS Communications/Events Manager Laura Rice said “animals are much happier in homes. They have people to interact with, snuggle up to.”
Adopters are merely about 30 percent retirees, the rest working families, Prodrick noted.
Pet foster parents came to the rescue this spring, Rice said. “We closed the adoption center (in Edneyville) in March,” to “limit exposure” amidst pandemic operational restrictions. “We moved all animals into foster homes, so they can be taken care of.” A few foster parents “fell in love with the pet, and adopted it.”
Adoptions resumed in late May. Since then “we’ve seen steady adoptions levels,” Rice said. Most animals awaiting permanent homes are out of BRHS’s shelter, reducing its crowding. “Forty of 48 animals in our custody are in foster homes” indefinitely, Rice said. She said normally, that transition is a week for a dog or “cute kitten,” and nearly two weeks per adult cat until they are chosen online.
Prodrick herself adopted two dogs from BRHS — Seneca the Australian cattle dog, and brown mutt Laverne. Her cat is from the Humane Society farm in Rochester, N.Y. where she was education manager before first running BRHS two years ago.
She said beyond dogs and cats, “every now and then we get rabbits. We’ve had a duck and a turtle” for adoption.
Also up for adoption is Chance the large porcelain bear. It is stationed at First Avenue West. Chance benefits BRHS with half of its auction proceeds, in the Bearfootin’ auction Oct. 24. Abigail Ghrist decorated Chance, in a flowing sea of colorful leaves.
To reduce human contact, people looking for pets are urged to check area adoption groups online to review animal profiles and photos. They select one, and by appointment see it in person.
A typical online request form includes where the animal will stay. “We counsel people, in the selection and training process,” Prodrick said. “If a cat will be outside 24 hours a day, we say ‘these are issues you might run into’ such as it picking up non-housebroken habits from wild cats. “We work with them, to find the perfect pet to fit in well.”
Training Manager Crystal Tysz gives tips online, or via the Pet Helpline number of 393-5832.
A tracking microchip is implanted into each animal, as part of its adoption preparation.
Free Pet Food
BRHS distributes free pet food at its adoption center, next in mid-September, Rice said. This is for “anyone (financially) affected by COVID-19, who needs pet food,” Rice said. “Times are tight. People have lost jobs, work less, and have medical bills. We don’t want any pets to go hungry. That keeps them out of the shelter, and in the home where they’re loved.”
Appointments are urged for visits to the upscale BRHS thrift store. It is at 1214 Greenville Hwy./U.S. 225. The adoption center is at 88 Centipede Lane, off U.S. 64 East.
A hand-crafted, wood-carved old Alaskan dog race sled in “perfect condition” sold for a “few hundred dollars” at the store, Prodrick said. She helps manage it.
“High-end designer name” women’s contemporary clothes are in abundance there, with some (‘50s-60s) vintage apparel also “barely worn,” some Prodrick said. The antique section includes art, dishes, collectibles, cooking ware, figurines, record players and discs, and sewing machines.
The next fundraiser for BRHS is Raymond’s Garden Center’s Plant for Paws, this Saturday, Aug. 29 at 8-5. Rice said, “We’re grateful they’re again providing (10 percent) of their sales back to us, from that day.”
“Barkyard Party” is a collective of fund drives on Saturday, Sept. 19 for BRHS, which people organize with friends. Those socially-distanced events planned so far include a wine tasting, dessert party, sit-down potluck brunch, and “neighborhood drop-in outdoors,” Rice said. Some may have live feeds online
So far, ten groups registered, Rice said, with 15 more considering. The “virtual host” donates $250. Donor sponsorship levels are $125 to $2500.
“It warms my heart to think of these little parties going on,” Prodrick said. “We can’t do it on a big scale this year. People will come together, with their passion for animals.”
Rice said such benefits are “raising funds that allow us to continue our work, during this strange” pandemic. Prodrick calls benefits “big revenue streams for us. We hope people who can’t attend Backyard Party will still donate to us.”
The adoption center now has a donation dropbox. Call 692-2639 or check blueridgehuman.org for further info on adoptable pets, fundraisers, etc. The customized pet request form is at: https://www.blueridgehumane.org/adopt/requests.