Virtual animal adoption process now available at the Ontario County Humane Society in Canandaigua
By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Q: Describe the virtual adoption program you started because of the coronavirus epidemic.
A: The way it works is that we do a live Facebook video where we take a walk through our shelter and we tell everyone about each animal. We mention their age, type of animal as well as each of the animal’s personality. We let people know how they interact, if they would do well with small children, if they would do well in a home with other dogs and cats and if they would do well with one-on-one situations or if they love larger groups. People contact us and they tell us which specific dogs or cats they could be interested in and we do a virtual meet and greet with those animals where they can ask additional questions. Finally, once they select the animal they want, then we schedule them to meet the animal in person and see if it is a fit. This is the next best thing we can do in this current situation. We have about 40 dogs and 35 cats.
Q: What has been the reception from the virtual adoption?
A: This is the first time we have done this and it was done out of desperation since we were closed to the public and knew we had animals that we wanted to go to happy and loving homes. But we have been shocked by the overall response. Our video was seen by more than 3,000 people. We had 18 to 20 people fill out applications in the first week. We may have a combination of doing a virtual adoption video every other week and then in the following weeks we may feature some of the animals that have been here for some time so we can find them homes. This may be something that we incorporate even when we can return back to normal practices.
Q: Why do you think animal adoptions are so essential now?
A: Animals are unique because they love unconditionally. They are able to be a great comfort in times of stress and we are living in stressful times now. They just love being loved and they show you affection. A great animal can take the edge off of a long day or just send positive vibes especially when we are all quarantined together.
Q: What is your personal connection to animals?
A: I have always been an animal lover. I grew up on a dairy farm and I always saw the importance of having animals around because they are beautiful and living things. I’ve had cats, dogs, beef cattle, sheep, goat and llamas. Once a farm girl, always a farm girl.
Q: Tell me about the Ontario County Humane Society
A: The humane society has been around since 1989 as a not-for-profit organization. We serve the cities of Canandaigua and Geneva as well as many other towns around the area. We are labeled as a no-kill shelter and 90% of our animals find homes. We have great success stories such as a dog that came from a drug dealer and had attitude issues, but our staff members worked hard and took the time to get to know her and her personality has changed. It is a winning situation for everyone. We strive to place the appropriate animals with the right person. But we also recognize that sometimes that doesn’t work so we have a policy if the pet doesn’t fit in the homeowner’s life for any reason we take them back whether that is six months or 10 years.
Q: How has the organization been doing with the current pandemic?
A: I think we appreciate that everyone in our organization is working hard. We could not do this without all our volunteers. We rely on them a lot and they are a godsend.
Photo: Dianne Faas of Manchester is shelter manager at Ontario County Humane Society in Canandaigua. Because of COVID-19, the organization is offering virtual adoptions.