COVID-19 leads to less fundraising, more animals in need of homes for Mitchell Animal Rescue
Mitchell Animal Rescue volunteers have found themselves with more animals on their hands than usual and fewer resources to provide foster care this spring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteer Linda Christensen said the rescue expects to see the annual boom in the number of cats and kittens needing homes any day now, but with social distancing measures in place, Mitchell Animal Rescue has had to cancel all of its fundraisers and adoptions events that had been scheduled for the spring and early summer.
"Now's the time that, if you're thinking about fostering or adopting, this would be the time to do it, because we're really low on fosters," Christensen said.
The rescue doesn't have a physical facility of its own and relies on foster homes to take in animals that weren't claimed at the Mitchell pound, but it funds fostering expenses such as food and cat litter.
Similar to other pounds in the area, Mitchell city ordinance stipulates an animal's owner has three days to claim their pet, followed by two days in which anyone can adopt the animal from the pound. Mitchell Animal Rescue places in foster care animals that haven't been claimed or adopted after those five days, and Christensen said since its founding in late 2009, the rescue has ensured no adoptable animal in Mitchell has had to be put down.
Christensen said Lakeview Veterinary Clinic, which manages the pound, sometimes keeps animals available for adoption at the pound past that five-day window if it isn't already full, but that the pound, which is located behind Lakeview's office, isn't an animal shelter where pets can be kept long-term. Mitchell Animal Rescue isn't directly affiliated with the pound.
Under normal circumstances, Christensen said, the nonprofit would take some animals for which foster homes aren't available in town to rescues in Minnesota, Iowa or Colorado to increase their chances of being adopted. With restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, that isn't currently possible, causing the rescue to have even more unadopted animals on its hands than usual.
From 2010 to 2019, Mitchell Animal Rescue took in 1,234 animals — about 39 percent of the total animals that were in the pound during that time, with the remaining 61 percent either being claimed by an owner or adopted directly from the pound.
While the pound has taken in slightly more dogs than cats over the course of a decade, dogs have been claimed or adopted at the pound more frequently than cats, leaving Mitchell Animal Rescue with 679 cats and 555 dogs to place in foster homes or transfer to long-term shelters.
With "kitten season" approaching and nowhere for those kittens to go from the pound, Christensen said what the rescue needs more than donations are people who can foster or adopt an animal. Ideally, she said, people interested in adopting a pet would do so directly from the pound rather than waiting for an animal to go into foster care, because Mitchell Animal Rescue pays upfront for the spaying or neutering and vaccinations for each fostered animal, which totals about $110 each.
"We need the people of Mitchell to adopt these loving animals and give them the homes they deserve, either from the pound or from us after they leave the pound," Christensen said. "If that is not possible, we need people to foster them while they wait."
Mitchell Animal Rescue publishes information about animals currently available in The Daily Republic and on its Facebook page, and adoptable animals already taken in by the rescue can be seen at mitchellanimalrescue.org. Applications to adopt, foster or volunteer are also available on the website.
Those who are interested in helping the rescue but are unable to adopt can either make donations directly or deposit change or County Fair stamps or cards in one of the 20 collection jars at local businesses, though many of those businesses' locations may not currently be accessible. Coborn's also donates 1 percent of its total receipt values to Mitchell Animal Rescue.
The Salvation Army's North Sanborn Blvd. location is now also accepting donations to assist Mitchell's animals in need of food or other supplies. Those can be made between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, and Christensen said cat food and litter are needed more than supplies for dogs and items such as blankets.