There has been a wave of pet adoptions since the pandemic, but some of these nonprofits helping match pets with new owners need help themselves.
One Detroit Editor Chris Jordan takes us to the Ferndale Catfe where he found his new friend, Tom Tom.
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Chris Jordan One piece of good news to come out of the pandemic was a dramatic increase in pet adoptions, with some animal rescues reporting that their adoption rates as much as doubled. I was part of that wave adopting senior cat TomTom from the Ferndale Cat Shelter and Catfe last August. The Ferndale Cat Shelter is a nonprofit which has been busier than ever during COVID, although meeting those demands during a pandemic has brought its own challenges.
Lauren Gilpin, Board Member & Adoption Volunteer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe In 2020, we did almost 1,000 individual adoptions. In 2019, we did just under 500, so more than a double and still going. Our first few months in 2021 have been really, really big as well. So we’re on track to probably have a similar number this year, if I have to guess.
Kevin Kearney, Cat Whisperer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe The pandemic has been really hard on a lot of people economically, but also psychologically, emotionally. People have had to give up their pets because they have had to given up a home or an apartment. But also people are suffering a lot of, well, emotional or psychological problems.
Deanna Iovan, Executive Director, Ferndale Cat Shelter/ Catfe A lot of the municipal shelters were closed during the pandemic. We didn’t have that option. It wasn’t, it wasn’t something that we even wanted to try to do. We needed to make ourselves available to the community, people and of cats, you know, to make sure that they got what they needed. We are boutique rescue, if you want to call it that. And I like the intimacy of how we connect our adopters with new family companions.
Kevin Kearney, Cat Whisperer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe Different cats need different people. And we sort of facilitate the matchmaking process.
Lauren Gilpin, Board Member & Adoption Volunteer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe We’re trying to create a long term match, not something that you’re going to get the cat home and then three days later, you’re going to realize it’s a disaster and it doesn’t work for your family or your lifestyle. In the before times when people wanted to adopt a cat, they would either come to the Catfe and meet the cat, or they would go to the fosters home if the cat was in foster, do a meet and greet, and then myself or another volunteer would go to their home and do what we call our home visit. When COVID hit, we changed for cats that are in foster. We did meet and greets virtually, or face time, or Zoom. And then as far as how the cafe has operated.
Kevin Kearney, Cat Whisperer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe We’re restricted by reservations, limiting the number of people who can come in here each hour. We also have more cats in here for people to come visit. Almost twice as many as when we were open before the pandemic.
Lauren Gilpin, Board Member & Adoption Volunteer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe The challenge, biggest challenge that our adoption team has faced during the pandemic, is just the demand. I mean, the applications come in constantly and people get really upset if they don’t hear back from you.
Kevin Kearney, Cat Whisperer, Ferndale Cat Shelter/Catfe We subsist solely on donations. We’re a 501(c)(3), and COVID, that kind of squashed a lot of that. We can’t do our cat bingo, we can’t do our cat yogurt or cat pilates, and our annual fundraiser was canceled last year.
Deanna Iovan, Executive Director, Ferndale Cat Shelter/ Catfe We were lucky that we received a grant last year from Petco, and that really saved us. We had to close the Catfe Lounge for 5 months out of the last 12, so we lost a lot of income with that. So that Petco grant really helped us to just survive.
Chris Jordan And I know you saw an increase in adoptions. Did you also see more like other people, like reaching out to support in other ways?
Deanna Iovan, Executive Director, Ferndale Cat Shelter/ Catfe Oh, yeah. Lots of, umm, everybody wanted to foster because everyone was stuck at home. So there’s a lot of crossover people that get involved in our organization and want to help more, you know, so so that’s that’s really a gift. I think people discovered what is great and wonderful about adopting from a small shelter and having a relationship with a small shelter. It’s like they’re joining the family, you know.