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Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Links to resources

AnimalSave: Call 530-271-7071. ext. 204, or visit http://www.animalsave.org

Sammie’s Friends: Visit http://www.sammiesfriends.org or call 530-471-5041 for dogs, 530-274-1955 for cats

Rescue for Pet Sake: Call 530-263-3331 or visit the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/rfpsgv/

Scooter’s Pals: Call 530-350-2099 or visit http://www.scooterspals.org

Stuck at home during the pandemic shutdown, Nevada County residents reacted in much the same way as the rest of the nation. They took up new hobbies, they binge-watched their favorite shows and they learned how to Zoom.

They also adopted new family members.

All over the country, animal shelters have reported massive upswings in the numbers of animals they’ve been able to adopt out or place in foster homes, noted an April article in Wired. Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told Wired the rates of fostering, in particular, have increased by 90% in some cities.

“Folks who don’t have animals for one reasons or another, because of their work schedule or their travel schedule, that’s all changed right now,” Block said.

Local animal advocates noted similar trends.

“Foster homes have been coming out of the woodwork, and adoptions are up, which is good,” Rescue for Pet Sake founder Pamela Gorman said. “People are home so they are giving more time to the animals. Some new fosters worked from home already and this has brought them to the forefront. It made them think about fostering, even if they work from home, because they can give the animal the time they need.”

Gorman said she has been adopting out animals “left and right.”

But she was quick to add she was carefully vetting prospective parents to make sure they have a plan in place for when they go back to work.

“I really screen by phone first,” she said. Then, home checks are done first through FaceTime and then in person by looking over the home from the outside to make sure it has secure fencing.

“We are very careful,” Gorman said. “We want to make sure the animals are safe.”

Rescue For Pet Sake has even been able to schedule a few meet-and-greets at its storefront on Bank Street in Grass Valley, with potential adopters required to wear masks and gloves and maintain social distancing.

AnimalSave had not necessarily seen a jump in adoptions — but it has not seen a decrease, either. And some long-term residents of the cat adoption facility found homes, said Executive Director Carolyn Niehaus.

“We have had some really good consistent adoptions through all of this,” Niehaus said. “A couple of cats we thought we would never adopt out, we have had them here for years — so there have been some really good happy endings.”


Through the shutdown, AnimalSave had been conducting adoptions by appointment only, she said, screening applicants to make sure they were serious about adopting.

“If it sounded like we might have a cat that meets their needs, then we would set up an appointment to come and meet the animal,” Niehaus said.

The nonprofit’s director said she plans to reopen the adoption room soon, limiting the number of people coming in and requiring masks.

At the county’s animal shelter, run by Sammie’s Friends, it didn’t take long for fosters to step up and help empty the facility after the shutdown order in mid-March.

“From the perspective of the animals, it has worked out really good,” said Sammie’s Friends cofounder Cheryl Wicks. “We got a lot of fosters, way more than under normal circumstances. … A lot of people came forward (because) they’re home. It is a good time to have an animal, especially for people who live alone.”

Sammie’s Friends, which has been conducting its adoption process online, also has seen consistent numbers, Wicks said.

The shelter does have some animals at the facility — strays waiting to be either reunited with their family or fostered, as well as animals that don’t socialize well.

“It has been a little frustrating for the staff, but they’re weathering the storm pretty well,” Wicks added.

Other groups like Gorman’s nonprofit have adapted their system for picking up rescues, even managing long-distance trips.

“I wear a mask, I require (the owners) to wear a mask,” Gorman said. “We do wipe the dogs down and wash our hands after handling dogs.”

During a recent rescue of six dogs from Southern California, the team of drivers took their own food to minimize extraneous contact, Gorman said.

“We’ve been very creative in making it work,” she said.


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Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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