The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many organizational changes at KC Pet Project over the past month. Our team has become so adept at flexing during emergencies, and embracing our motto of “solutions, not excuses”, so we jumped into action early on to create new processes and utilize technology in a whole new way so we could all stay safe and seamlessly continue saving lives during this time.
Fostering Is the Future
In preparation for Kansas City’s Stay At Home Order, we asked our community on March 16th to help us by signing up to become an emergency foster home. We received applications from 863 foster families and sent 278 dogs and 218 cats to foster homes in less than four weeks. We redeployed staff from other departments that could assist seven days a week in getting animals out quickly to foster homes. Today, more than 90% of the animals in our care are in foster homes, including EVERY cat in our shelter!
Reserved Intake for Emergency Cases Only
Our team followed the recommendations from the National Animal Care & Control Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and worked with our local Animal Control officials to limit the intake of animals into our shelter to only sick and injured pets, dogs that posed a public safety threat, animals who were suffering from cruelty and neglect, and stray animals who were otherwise in immediate danger. We continue to provide resources to people finding healthy, stray animals and emphasize keeping pets in their community is key to helping more pets find their way back home.
Focused on Remote Services and Virtual Adoptions
Within just a few days of the Stay At Home Order, we launched a new appointment-based system for meeting available pets and processing adoptions. By the beginning of April, every available dog and cat was living in a foster home, rather than in our shelter, so with many staff members working from home we launched a virtual adoption process. Using Zoom, scheduling and document signing apps, adoption counselors and foster families can stay socially distant yet meet with potential adopters and process their pet adoptions without ever needing to come to the shelter!
Since March 16th, we have processed nearly 500 pet adoptions using our new appointment based remote services and virtual adoptions – with 260 pets having been adopted directly from their foster homes. These processes resulted in an increase in adoptions during this time and better, more efficient customer services.
Launched our Get ‘Em Home Team for Lost Pets
When lost pets arrive, it is critical that we begin immediately looking to reunite the pet with their family. Our Get ‘Em Home Team utilizes volunteers in the community to assist us in helping to post found pets on Nextdoor, lost & found pet websites and Facebook pages, and helps create fliers that can be posted in neighborhoods. We are looking at new ways to provide better services for getting stray pets home and helping people rehome owned pets – incentivizing and empowering owners and finders to be the solution (with support from our organization).
Telemedicine and Curbside Veterinary Services
Our team implemented all of the guidelines issued by the AVMA, including appointment-based, curbside services for adopters and fosters coming for follow up appointments and picking up medications. We implemented telemedicine options for foster families caring for sick or injured pets so they could talk directly with one of our shelter veterinarians in a timely manner without needed to bring pets to our shelter.
Virtual Shopping to Support our Foster Program
Not only did we put our retail store at the campus online, but we launched a campaign asking supporters to buy needed supplies directly from us, then donate them back to us to give to our foster families caring for pets in their homes. Donors can shop online for large wire kennels, food, treats, beds, etc., and designate the items purchased to be given directly to our foster families caring for dogs or cats in their homes. Retail items for personal pets are also available to buy, and items purchased can be arranged for curbside pickup at our shelter.
What Is Next?
These positive changes are all things we will continue to use and, in fact, build on in the coming weeks. We have the opportunity to set out on a path to fundamentally change how we shelter animals in our country and our president, Teresa Johnson, is working with national animal welfare organizations and shelter directors across the nation to re-think how animal shelters can better serve the pets and people in our communities.
For eight years, you’ve come to know KC Pet Project as a leader in progressive, lifesaving programs – helping Kansas City to become a No Kill community. We need your support now as we continue to help tens of thousands of animals in our community who still need us, and thousands of families that will need our help more than ever in the coming weeks to care for their pets.