During the coronavirus outbreak, 121 cats and 81 dogs have gone into foster services, she added.
As many shelter volunteers and staff members can attest, those numbers are unprecedented, Valenta said.
“The community is coming and getting animals out of the shelter,” Valenta said. “These animals—even if they are not adopted, they are in homes.”
Despite the current coronavirus pandemic, area animal shelters continue working to provide temporary and permanent homes to furry friends in need, Valenta said. WCRAS services all of Williamson County, save for the cities of Georgetown and Taylor, she said, and remains open for adoptive and foster services by appointment.
In a time of need for animals without a home, Valenta said the local community has stepped up to provide love, support and reprieve.
Despite the isolating efforts that have come with social distancing and self-quarantining, Valenta said Williamson County has never been more united as a community.
“It’s such an easier transition for an animal to go from home to home than home to shelter to home, and that’s really heartwarming for so many people,” Valenta said. “It’s amazing to watch the community really grow and help each other when it comes to lost pets and found pets.”
The shelter has temporarily suspended its animal intake policies at this time due to the coronavirus outbreak and is unable to accept lost and found animals except for in emergency situations. But despite these limitations, Valenta said neighbors have taken it upon themselves to search for and house lost animals.
Valenta said that lost animals are often found in the same neighborhood as their homes and added that neighbors have displayed a willingness to temporarily house them as opposed to driving them to a shelter or a kennel.
“Now, these reunions are happening with the community, and that just makes me feel so happy for these animals, that they’re getting back to their families much quicker,” she said.
Extending a helping hand
While Pflugerville Animal Welfare Services is currently closed to the public, the organization is still taking adoption and fostering appointments via email.
In an effort to support the shelter and its animals at this time, the Friends of the Pflugerville Animal Shelter organization has launched its new program, Pfeeding Pfriends.
Pfeeding Pfriends aims to provide and deliver pet food to those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic, according to the organization’s Facebook page. The nonprofit also accepts donations that are then given to the shelter to assist with daily operations.
For those interested in assisting local shelters but are unable to foster or adopt, Valenta said one of the biggest contributions they can make is spreading awareness about the shelter’s efforts. With kitten season underway, Valenta is working with community members to keep kittens with their mothers until they are old enough to be admitted into the shelter. Given the pandemic, she said that is more important now than ever.
With the current climate, Valenta also encouraged pet owners to work with friends and loved ones in developing a disaster plan, should an animal owner contract the coronavirus. Valenta said a crucial, but often underestimated, concern is what happens to pets if their owner is admitted to the hospital.
“If your family has to be hospitalized for the coronavirus, who’s going to take care of your pets?” Valenta said. “That is helping the shelter as well because those animals are not entering the shelter system.”
Even amid the coronavirus outbreak, Valenta said one of the most reaffirming things she has witnessed is the community’s ability to rally together and support each other, one animal at a time. Looking to the future, she said she is optimistic that whenever this shelter-in-place order ends, this sense of community and camaraderie will remain.
For the first time, some of these animals are sleeping on couches and beds. The love and hope that can give them, Valenta said, goes a long way.
“For those neighbors who are helping and returning animals within their neighborhoods before going to the shelter, I hope that continues after the shelter opens,” Valenta said. “I hope that people continue to open their homes and continue to foster animals so that more animals are in homes.”