CANMORE – Finding solace in Canmore's furriest friends, the Bow Valley SPCA has been adapting to new provincial health measures while helping animals find their fur-ever homes.
SPCA adoption centre manager Meghan Keelan said the organization has had an overwhelming amount of outreach from community members since the COVID-19 outbreak arrived in the Bow Valley.
“It was pretty awesome,” Keelan said.
“It’s been really heartwarming to have that kind of outreach without really putting a call out to the community.”
The SPCA has never had an official foster program, she said, explaining the organization tries to find a balance between keeping animals at the centre, or fostering them to volunteers, to give them the best quality of life possible.
Within the first week of COVID-19 business closures, Keelan estimates she had more then 15 emails from people asking how they could help the centre out, including offers to foster or adop dogs or cats if needed.
The SPCA currently has six dogs and about 17 cats, Keelan said. She added it will get more cats later this week.
“We went into the COVID with a lower count of cats, which I think is kind of a blessin,g because I anticipate transfers throughout these closures due to COVID and due to the unemployment it has caused and the change of people’s financial situations,” Keelan said.
“It’s nice to have that space available for dire situations.”
The cat count at the centre is lower the usual, typically the SPCA has around 30 felines, Keelan said. This year, the SPCS has experienced more dog transfers she added, explaining that they have had a waiting list for additional dogs and cats since Christmas.
“We can’t stop what we do because we have living things in our building,” Keelan said.
“We’re still doing adoptions – it’s just a little stricter and situational.”
In terms of adoption, Keelan said she recommends people keep in mind how their financial situation could be changing, but added that it could also be the perfect time to adopt if someone is working from home.
“If you are working from home, or if you have unfortunately been laid off, if you’ve been considering bringing a new animal into your home – it’s a good time because you’re around all the time and you can help them get settled,” Keelan said.
"You’re not jetting off for work every day, you’ll be there for them.”
At the same time, she said the organization does not want people to adopt because they have more free time during the pandemic because it is a lifelong commitment bringing a furry family member into the home.
“Pets are so expensive, they’re going to cost,” Keelan said.
“If you are in a position to adopt and you’ve been considering it for a while, now might be a good time to start looking.”
The SPCA is accommodating meet-ups for those interested in getting an animal, she said, explaining it is doing adoptions by appointment to maintain physical distancing.
Those that come for a potential adoption visit are asked to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols, including self-isolation if they have travelled, have symptoms or been exposed to the virus.
The organization is “lucky,” she said, because it can close its gates and still operate. However, all programs, events or activities that involve members of the public at the facility have been put on hold for the near future.
Keelan said the goal now is to help bring a smile to community members' faces during the challenging experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to bring a little bit of joy to the community and we have cats and dogs to do that with,” Keelan said, recommending people check out the SPCA’s social media to see the behind the scenes of the centre.
“Although the gates are closed, we still have our cats and dogs that need a lot of love and care.”
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