Dec 1, 2020

Responding to a disaster...during a disaster

Cats rescued during the Oregon wildfires
Cats rescued during the Oregon wildfires

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon faced another massive challenge. Wildfires were raging across the state — roaring through the Santiam Canyon, decimating towns in Southern Oregon and the coast range, and creeping dangerously close to some of the most densely populated areas in Oregon.

Oregon Humane Society’s Incident Command team, already meeting regularly, shifted their focus to wildfire response.

“We deployed all of our resources to meet the specific needs in the affected communities,” says Jennifer Barta, OHS staff member who led planning through the wildfire incident. “We approached the response in three distinct ways.”

  1. OHS collaborated with agencies in the Portland metro-area to help pet owners from Clackamas County – sending teams into the field to deliver supplies, setting up kennels and caring for animals at evacuation sites.
  2. OHS worked with partners around the state to transport shelter pets to Portland so space and resources were freed up to help pets and people directly impacted by the fires.
  3. OHS supplied pet food and supplies so evacuees could keep their pets with them. OHS also provided emergency boarding as a last resort for pet owners who were not able to stay with their pet.

In addition, stray cats from Clackamas County were brought to OHS for medical treatment and daily care until their owners could be located.

“But, we couldn’t forget that we were still operating during a global health crisis, so we always had to put our plans through that filter,” says Brian August, OHS Chief Operating Officer. “For example, if we were sending responders to an evacuation site, we made sure they had masks and could stay six feet apart if they were in the same vehicle, or we planned for separate vehicles.”

“Every aspect of managing operations during the wildfire was a challenge,” says Chase Patterson, OHS Operations Director and member of the Incident Command Team. “When we were bringing transports of pets to OHS, we had to make sure our processes kept employees safe from COVID-19 and the smoky air.”

To keep the hazardous air out of the shelter, dog walks were suspended and special indoor areas for potty breaks were set up. The OHS maintenance team brought in extra filters and air scrubbers to keep staff, adopters and the animals safe.

Although the wildfires in Oregon have subsided, OHS continues to be a resource to both pets and people in our community. To help pet owners impacted by COVID, job loss, or other factors, OHS is hosting a pet food bank on Dec. 1-2 where free pet food is available to those that need it.

“Our goal is to continue to support pet owners in our community in any way we can. By hosting this Pet Food Bank, we hope to give those who are struggling one less thing to worry about this holiday season," said Sharon Harmon, OHS President and CEO, in a statement.

Aug 3, 2020

Sancho Finds His Forever Home

Sancho and Jason
Sancho and Jason

Even during a pandemic, the need to care for shelter pets and find them new homes continues. This spring, our adoption process went to appointment-only to help keep adopters and staff safe during the crisis. This has reduced the number of pets being adopted at this time; but each and every adoption made is a cause to celebrate.

The adoption journey of a dog name Sancho is just one happy adoption story that occurred in the middle of a pandemic. Sancho, a seven-year-old German shepherd-mix, was rescued by the Sheriff’s Office in neighboring Clackamas County. Sancho was emaciated, his skin was raw and inflamed, and he was missing much of his hair. He was brought to Clackamas County Dog Services, where it was quickly determined he needed medical and behavior care before he could be adopted into a loving home. Knowing that OHS has the resources to provide personalized care to a dog like Sancho, Clackamas County Animal Services asked OHS if we could admit and care for Sancho.

Once Sancho arrived at OHS, he was examined by forensic veterinarians working with the Investigations team. They determined he’d been starved and had chronic skin allergies that had been neglected for a long time. The Medical team went to work, putting Sancho on a feeding plan to help him gain weight at a healthy pace. They also began to treat his skin issues, but his condition was severe. Sancho would need lifelong, specialized care.

Months after he was treated and ready for adoption, Sancho still hadn’t found the right person. The noise and activity in the shelter was stressful for him. Staff and volunteers worked hard to help him cope. He played fetch each morning and went on multiple walks every day. And he joined the OHS Running Team, a program where volunteers take high-energy dogs on multi-mile runs.

Then COVID-19 hit, and everything changed. With adoptions now appointment-only, many pets were moved to foster homes. Sancho was chosen to go to foster care, but he needed the right person to care for him and his unique needs. OHS put out a call for emergency foster homes, and an OHS volunteer named Jason responded.

Jason’s restaurants temporarily closed because of the pandemic, and so he had the perfect opportunity to look after a pet in need. This was Jason’s first time fostering an animal, and he was nervous. But OHS provided Jason with the training and supplies for him to feel confident in his new role as Foster Parent. Virtual consultations with OHS trainers helped Jason understand and manage Sancho’s stress around other dogs. Plus, OHS veterinarians gave him clear instructions to treat Sancho’s skin condition.

After months of devoting time to Sancho’s care and training, Jason and Sancho became inseparable. Jason decided to make it permanent and this June, adopted Sancho, giving him a forever home.

Thank you for your support of the pets in our shelter and community, and for helping Sancho find a loving home and family.

Aug 2, 2018

Danny's Spa Day at Oregon Humane Society

Danny is just one of many homeless animals brought to the Oregon Humane Society through the Second Chance program, where animals are transported from overcrowded shelters on the West Coast to OHS. A two-year-old terrier mix, Danny was found living on the streets in Merced, California. Like many strays, Danny was in desperate need of grooming. He came to the Merced County Animal Control looking more Muppet than dog, with an overgrowth of matted fur that covered his entire body. Even his sweet, brown eyes were covered by gnarls of white and brown fur.

Through no fault of their own, Merced’s intake of homeless animals is far greater than their adoptions — a common problem for Central Valley shelters. The OHS Second Chance program works with overcrowded shelters to help keep their population manageable by transferring animals from their shelter to ours.

Recently, Danny (along with 59 other dogs and cats!) was transported from various Central Valley shelters to OHS. The animals arrived late at night, and were brought into the shelter by our staff and volunteers, admitted, examined, and settled in.

The next day a team of volunteers set out to tame Danny’s wild fur. It took three people, including one professional dog groomer, two hours to work through the matted fur and shave Danny. One of Danny’s groomers said it was the worst matting they’d ever seen. Relieved from the discomfort he was feeling from having so much tangled fur on his body, Danny was able to rest in a comfy kennel while he waited to be adopted.

Posting before and after photos of Danny on our social media generated several potential adopters for Danny, and with his playful and friendly nature, he quickly found his new home and family.  

Thanks to support from donors, OHS can transport and rehome thousands of pets every year through the Second Chance, transforming the lives of pets, like Danny, from living in desperate need to health, security, and loving homes.

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