PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — For the fourth summer in a row, 10 On Your Side is asking you to help us “Clear the Shelters.”
Clear the Shelters is a nationwide initiative to get as many pets into forever homes as possible. This year’s Clear the Shelters may look a little bit different because of the coronavirus pandemic, but shelters are adapting.
The Animal Aid Society was created in 1971. For almost 50 years, they’ve been working to help dogs find a forever home. Although this year has brought some unique challenges, they are still focused on that core mission of being a safe haven for homeless dogs.
“Since 1971, we’ve been taking dogs in,” said Pam Christiansen, who is the shelter’s intake coordinator. “We are a no-kill shelter, which means if a dog is brought to us or we pick up, or we get, or is surrendered, however we get the dog, it will stay here for the duration of its life until it gets adopted.”
Christiansen says their goal is to get as many animals adopted as quickly as possible.
When the pandemic hit, they did have to make some changes.
“We tried to find creative ways to find homes for dogs or fosters for dogs rather than bringing them into the shelter because we were working with a skeleton crew,” said Christiansen.
All of the dogs they placed into foster care during the pandemic were adopted, but the need isn’t gone.
“There are so many dogs that are in need, that need homes,” said Christiansen.
Diane Witiak, who is on the board of the Animal Aid Society, says volunteers help send the right dog to the right home.
“We get to know these dogs and what their personalities are like, so we’re very honest with the public,” said Witiak. “I almost think they know that they’ve been saved from getting out of the shelter into a home, a loving home.”
Witiak suggests people use Clear the Shelters as a time to look online for a furry friend. Then, safely, visit the shelter to see if it’s a good fit.
“This community is incredible,” said Witiak. “They are so animal supportive and I think that’s made the difference.”
There are more than 20 local shelters participating in this year’s Clear the Shelters campaign.
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