Animal Welfare League Executive Director Sally Scott pets Lovey Dovey, one of the pets of the week, at AWL Thursday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
Animal Welfare League Executive Director Sally Scott pets Lovey Dovey, one of the pets of the week, at AWL Thursday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
PIERCETON – Almost a year into a pandemic and at the beginning of a new year, the Animal Welfare League is still looking to serve the animal community.

The AWL facility at 1048 S. CR 325E, Pierceton, can house about 70 dogs and between 150 and 200 cats, said AWL Executive Director Sally Scott. As of Thursday, AWL has 25 dogs and over 100 cats.

The shelter’s adoptions have been really good, Scott said. “Compared to last year, I’d say with the pandemic, a lot of people have been wanting to adopt pets and also our intake numbers have been down.”

At the beginning of 2020, she said AWL’s intake was pretty high, but it began to go down and adoptions went up, she said. At the early stages of the pandemic, AWL saw its cat adoptions “go way up.” Scott said she possibly sees it continuing, but can’t say for sure.

Scott said she thinks that now that a lot of people are working from home, they have the time to spend with their pet, so they’re not having to deal with the issues of not being able to house train them or behavioral issues and just being able to give the pet the attention they need.

“I think it’s a good thing. A lot of people, when they surrender their pet, it’s not something they want to do.?It’s just something they feel is better for the animal to go to a home that can get that chance to get as much love and affection as they need,” Scott said.

To help fund the shelter, AWL relies on donations and fundraisers.

The community has been very generous in giving donations, Scott said. She said donations come in two forms: money and supplies.

Scott said she hasn’t noticed a huge difference in individual donations.

“When we put out a call for items we’re in need of, we usually get a boost. You know, people want to help when they can, so when they see we’re in need of a certain item, they’re quick to come help us,” Scott said.

AWL usually puts a notice on its Facebook page stating they need supplies, but they also have an Instagram and Twitter account. Things the shelter usually looks for is items like blankets, nonclumping cat litter, food and towels.

There are times when AWL raises money for certain animals at times if one comes to the shelter after being hit by a car, etc. The shelter will try to raise the money to give them the care they need, whether it be for surgeries or medications.  AWL has raised the money in several different ways, including GoFundMe.com or Facebook fundraisers.

“Usually, they’re very successful,” Scott said.

“A lot of our funding also comes from fundraisers, which we haven’t been able to do, so that’s really hurt us,” Scott said. “We had to cancel our summer BBQ, and that was an event that a lot of people enjoyed and did bring in a lot of money that we could use for different areas of the shelter.”

Individual donations have helped, but the cancellations of fundraisers have hurt the shelter, Scott said.

She said in 2021, AWL is hoping to host more fundraisers and “we’ve got different ideas for different events and seeing what we can do.” Some possible ideas, while not definite, include virtual events so people don’t have to leave their homes, she said. “We’re just working things out, so we’re hoping to announce something soon, so keep checking Facebook and the website.”

AWL has boosted its social media presence with videos and that has helped the shelter, Scott said.

“Instead of just looking at a photograph, people can see how the pet interacts with a person and we add music to it. It’s garnered interest for our shelter,” she said.

AWL will continue with such social media tools as videos, and Scott said the shelter is learning more each day and having fun with it. It helps show people AWL cares about the animals in its care, she said.

AWL has about 80 volunteers with 10 to 15 volunteers the shelter sees on a weekly basis. Scott said the number of volunteers has decreased a little bit due to the fact some people are concerned about the pandemic. Since things have settled down and the restrictions have been somewhat lifted since the lockdown in early 2020, Scott said the shelter has seen an increase of volunteers recently.

One of the things the shelter is doing to provide safety measures is to provide services by appointment only. People can give the shelter a call to let staff know what the person is interested in, whether it was volunteering, adopting a certain animal or looking at the different animals for adoption. AWL’s number is 574-267-3008. Scott said the shelter may continue with the appointments even after the pandemic is over because it helps AWL stay organized.

It also has helped the shelter with its returned rate of adopted animals after people have adopted animals on a whim. AWL has a trial period with adoptions. The three- to four-day period was increased to two weeks when the pandemic hit, which will be continued. If a family wants more time for a trial period, the family can call staff at AWL.

As far as what 2021 has in store, Scott said she hopes “we could see an end to the pandemic” and start having the shelter’s big fundraising events. She’d like to do different programs, such as educating the shelter’s volunteers more about handling animals, as well as those interested in fostering any animals that need one-on-one care.