The MSPCA-Angell Adoption Center and Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain remain open for animal care and adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some changes snd adjustments have been made to ensure the safety of MSPCA employees and visitors.
The Gazette spoke with Michael Keiley, Director of Adoption Centers and Programs at MSPCA-Angell, about some of these changes.
On the adoption side, Keiley said one of the most challenging thing they have faced is not having the ability to have people walk through the center to view the animals, as people are allowed in only by appointment so as to comply with social distancing guidelines.
He said that appointment-only is “not our typical approach. There was still a strong desire for people to still come in and see the animals.” So the MSPCA decided to do a live video tour on Facebook each day so interested people can see what animals were available for adoption, in an effort to recreate the typical experience of people coming in to the center to interact with the animals.
“People can see the animals each day; people could ask questions,” he said of the live video. “It worked really well compared to our normal advertisement, which is usually just pictures and descriptions. That live tour component really made it so people were still well connected.”
He said that there have been “a lot of adoptions”—over 300 since March 14, which is when he said they marked the start of the outbreak. “Because we have gotten so much success, there are a smaller number of animals in our building,” he added.
He said that the number of surrenders is also down, which he attributed to the large number of people staying inside. He said that this number is likely to increase.
“We’re doing everything we can in advance,” he said of the adoption process: “interviewing people by phone, telling them background information and sharing information electronically, and limiting the interaction to the point where it is just meeting the animal directly” and figuring out if it’s a good match.
Once a good match is found, the adoption process is completely by phone, where the MSPCA will go over the animal’s medical history with the new owner, as well as address any questions they may have about care.
The MSPCA is requiring everyone coming into the building to wear a mask, and Keiley said that all staff are using PPE available to the MSPCA.
On the Angell Animal Medical Center side, Keiley said that the emergency room remains open, and primary care appointments must be arranged over the phone. There is also a community outreach program providing affordable access to care. All care given at the medical center is contactless, so owners are not allowed to accompany their pet into the hospital.
Aside from adoptions and medical care, the MSPCA has partnered with several nonprofits and food pantries near its locations to provide food and supplies to owners who are having trouble finding the means to provide them during this time “to make sure that no pets go hungry,” Keiley said.
Over 65,000 meals have been delivered to food pantries and doorsteps so far, Keiley said.
In Jamaica Plain, the MSPCA has partnered with several nonprofits and other groups, including the Mildred Hailey housing complex, to provide pet food.
Additionally, “each of our adoption centers has opened its doors to providing temporary housing for animals whose owners are sick with COVID-19,” Keiley said.
A major focus right now for the MSPCA is to “innovate and adapt as quickly as we possibly can to care for homeless animals and be able to find new homes [for them] during this,” Keiley said “The main mission within the community is to help keep pets safe and keep them with their families as best we can, and to constantly reevaluate and provide services to help maintain that mission.”