By Alyssa Choiniere
UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Fayette Friends of Animals has lost volunteers and fundraising opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’ve been helped out by a surge in adoptions.
“We’ve had an influx in adoptions in COVID, an influx in people wanting to adopt because everyone is staying home,” said Office Manager Molly Wilcosky.
The shelter, which is the county’s only no-kill shelter, has often been forced to stash cats wherever they could find room because so many people were dropping them off at the clinic. They accepted as many as they could.
“At one point in time, we had cats in the bathroom, just every room we had was filled with cats,” she said.
With a surge in adoptions that has lasted throughout much of the year, she said, they are below maximum capacity for both cats and dogs, a rare scenario for the shelter which is almost always full. Cat and kitten adoptions usually increase in November and December, she said. On Nov. 24, they had about 50 cats and kittens and 25 dogs, with five scheduled to go home by the end of the day.
“We seem to have open kennels where we can help more,” she said.
- IF YOU WANT TO HELP: For more information, or to donate or volunteer visit www.fayettefriendsofanimals.net, Fayette Friends of Animals on Facebook, or call 724-245-7815.
The biggest hit to the clinic was the cancellation of their largest annual fundraisers, their cash bash and calendar party. Both events were held virtually, but they only brought in a fraction of their typical revenue, Wilcosky said. Each event typically brings in about $10,000 each, and she said the cash bash earned about $3,000 or $4,000.
“That was probably the most devastating thing was not having those,” she said.
During the shutdown, she said no volunteers were allowed in the building and they lost two staff members due to reduced hours.
“During COVID, there were only three of us all day long taking care of all the animals,” said Kennel Manager Pam Pahuly.
Volunteers were allowed once again as the region entered the green phase, but they said they lost many of their regular volunteers. Masks are required inside, but walking dogs outside does not require a mask. They are also continuing their spay and neuter clinics.
Wilcosky said they have created wish lists on Chewy and Amazon that allow people to donate without going to the store. She said they are most in need of cleaning supplies, gloves, cat litter and cat food.
“The community has really stepped up for us a lot,” she said.
Alyssa Choiniere is a reporter for the Uniontown Herald-Standard, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story is being simultaneously published. Readers may email here at [email protected]