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Amid adhering to and preparing for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's COVID-19 stay-at-home order, animal shelters and rescues across the state are looking to the public for help.
Pritzker's order went into effect at 5 p.m. Saturday and will continue through at least April 7. Shelters and rescues will soon become constrained by challenges concerning staffing and/or volunteer restrictions, adoption and fostering services, availability of food and more.
Many have taken to social media to ask the public to adopt or foster animals. Above all, a consistent need for many shelters and rescues – if not all – is for monetary donations in the weeks to come.
Dominique Castillo, who is the owner of Dominique's Dog Grooming based in Montgomery and a volunteer at Renko Animal Shelter, said that prior to the stay-at-home order, shelters and rescues were "begging" for foster families.
Renko, which does not have a physical location, instead helps coordinate potential animal matches from shelters or elsewhere with prospective adoptive or foster care families as a foster home-based organization.
It has canceled all meet-and-greet opportunities with its animals until the order is lifted, but it is still showcasing its animals on PetFinder.com for people to view.
"We obviously can't pull animals from shelters without a support system of fosters. We need places to put them," Castillo continued. "That is every rescue's biggest issue: Having reliable fosters that will take an animal in and see it through until it's adopted."
Monetary donations for animal supplies to Renko can be done via PayPal.
"It's a waiting game," Castillo said. It's good and it's bad. It's good that our animals are safe, they're in homes and they're not in shelters. But, at the same time, we can't pull any future animals until we move some of the animals that we have; so, this will impact rescues in the months to come as well.
"There [are] pleas coming from Chicago [Animal Care and Control] to pull these dogs before they are forced to shut down," Castillo said. "While the employees will be there to feed and clean out the kennels, there will be no socialization. There will be no walking of these animals...so rescues have been fleeing there and pulling mass amounts of dogs."
Castillo said Renko has pulled three dogs from CAC&C to date.
Tails Humane Society, based in DeKalb, provided an update on its website citing the facility "will be closed for adoptions until further notice" after Saturday. Although, an online adoption process is currently being implemented.
The Aurora Care and Animal Control, which is currently closed to the public, posted on its website that it "will not be conducting adoptions or taking owner surrendered animals until further notice."
Carrie Lander, a board member for the nonprofit and foster home-based Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets (HELP) organization in Kane County, said it had to pull approximately 12 cats from a PetSmart adoption center in Geneva; and then put them into foster homes due to the stay-at-home order.
"Because a lot of the shelters are completely overcrowded, what we do is we pull from those crowded [no kill] shelters locally and from out-of-state," Lander said.
"Right now, [our message is]: 'Hey, if you guys are at home and if you are open to fostering and want to open your home for a couple weeks, it would help us pull a dog [or cat] from one of those shelters,'" Lander continued. "Which, may open up a spot for another one...It's kind of a way to make good out of the whole situation that we're dealing with right now."
Lander said HELP is always in need of things like food and litter donations. HELP does not have a physical location, so Lander advises interested individuals with donations to contact the organization directly.
"We provide 100% of everything for our foster [families]," Lander said. "We pay for anything they may need down from toys and everything."
Anderson Animal Shelter, which has locations in South Elgin, North Aurora and Bloomingdale, posted on its website Saturday afternoon it is "no longer in need of adopters or fosters at this time."
In terms of animal supply donations, AAS said it has enough food, newspapers and bedding for the animals to last until mid-May.
"We had already started moving some of our animals into foster homes as early as the middle of the week," AAS Chief Executive Officer Beth Drake said. "We were already sort of moving in that direction when the governor made his announcement.
"We have been successful in getting a whole bunch of animals into adoptive homes. Hopefully, they stay there and don't get returned."
As far as bringing in more animals, Drake said those those situations will be done on a "case-by-case basis".
"As we continue to take intakes, we're going continue to look for [foster families]," Drake said. "But, at this point, this is so new that we don't yet know what the need is going to be very much in the future. Our plan is to re-assess every single every single day."