Shelter finds loving homes for animals, even in pandemic

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Female cat hides under bench.

Sara Tidwell

Delilah, a 2-year-old female short hair, hides under a bench at the Capital Area Humane Society.

The stars aligned for 39-year-old animal-lover Penny Myers that day in 2010 when she walked through the doors of the Capital Area Humane Society as a volunteer.

Native to Grand Rapids, Lansing was quite the drive from home for Myers. But that hasn’t stopped her. Saving the lives of homeless animals was her main goal and, as the director of community relations, she’s gotten to live that out daily for the last decade.

“2020 has definitely been difficult and I can’t image anybody out there who says that it hasn’t been,” Myers said. “At the start, we actually closed down for about a month and a half. We were so blessed to have people come out of everywhere offering to foster during that time. We were able to get almost all of our animals out of the shelter like that.”

The Capital Area Humane Society, 7095 W. Grand River Ave. in Watertown Township on Lansing’s west side, can house up to 580 animals.

Myers said the society tries to roughly split it in half, housing 290 in its adoption area and another 290 in its intake area, where surrendered animals stay until they are medically up to par. That number doesn’t include about 100 animals that are out in foster homes in the community.

After a month and a half closure, the humane society ended up running virtual adoptions.

“We did everything over the phone and then they would come here to meet the pet,” Myers said.

Until the second week in June, this was the only time that the public was allowed inside the humane society’s doors.

When the eventual reopening came, it looked a lot different than normal. The humane society had installed Plexiglas shields between receptionists and customers, had cleaning protocols and employees and volunteers were following the mask mandate originally implemented by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

There was also a limit to the amount of staff and patrons allowed inside at one time – this caused the business to suspend their volunteer program, only utilizing 15 out of the normal 1,200 pairs of hands.

“Things are different, but we’re doing it and the amazing thing is that we have done so many adoptions. Last month, in Oct., we had the highest number of adoptions ever,” Myers said the tally came out to 490. “Typically we have about 280, so to do almost 500 is amazing. We’re so happy about it.”

Myers said she thinks this is because of the pandemic keeping everybody at home and in close quarters for school and work days. People have more time now to take care of an animal for a few weeks at a time.

To foster an animal from the humane society, individuals must first fill out an online form. This form runs through the basic questions, Myers said, from how many people are living in your home to what your experience with animals is and what you’re willing to do for them.

The humane society provides all materials for foster families.

“Say they have bottle baby kittens, we provide them with the formula, towels, blankets, food and litter,” Myers said. “Typically they have to bring them in a couple times to get re-vaccinated, or if they’re seeming under the weather for a check-up.”

To adopt an animal from the humane society, individuals can go to their website, where there are have several tabs that will walk adopters through the process and show them options.

However, Myers said the best way to adopt is to physically come to the humane society.

“We want you to come in the cattery and sit down and spend time with the cats. We want you to spend time with the adult dogs. We want to make the best match for our pet and for the adopter and hopefully, when you come to visit, you’ll fall in love,” Myers said.

Kittens are $125 and adult cats are $50 – all felines are “adopt one, get one.” Puppies are $300 and adult dogs are $175. All adoption fees include up-to-date vaccinations, testing for things like heartworm, spay or neuter surgery and a microchip.

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