Adoptions on hiatus for dogs and cats at ROAR

Pet adoptions are on hold at ROAR. The shelter is hoping to resume the adoption process for dogs and cats in the next few weeks.

Pet adoptions are on hold at ROAR. The shelter is hoping to resume the adoption process for dogs and cats in the next few weeks.

Contributed photo / ROAR

The seven cats and three dogs at ROAR (Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue) are just like most humans these days — on hold and waiting to see what happens next.

Animal shelters in Connecticut qualify as an essential business under state regulations and are allowed to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. Some have gone to adoption by appointment, allowing potential pet owners to set up meet-and-greets with dogs and cats, either in person or virtually. Other shelters, including ROAR, have chosen to suspend the adoption process temporarily.

“To do our part in the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, we thought it was best to take a break and stop adoptions,” said Kerry Dobson, ROAR’s executive director. “We haven’t been doing virtual meet-and-greets because we think they are better when done in person.

“Our plan is to start accepting calls next week and then begin making appointments for meet-and-greets the week after that,” Dobson said. “That’s our projected plan, but it could change.”

When ROAR does resume pet adoptions, they will be conducted with social distancing in mind.

“We have a fairly large lobby, parking lot and backyard,” Dobson said. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of space for people and pets to interact.”

ROAR’s last adoption before the break came on March 30, when a puppy left the facility for a new home.

“We did do adoption by appointment for a few weeks,” Dobson said. “Around April 1 we decided it was best to suspend the adoptions.”

Although adoptions are on hiatus, ROAR’s pantry is open (with limited hours) for pet owners struggling to pay for cat and dog food. Food donations for the pet pantry are also being accepted.

“We have the pet pantry set up in the front foyer,” Dobson said. “We’ve also linked up with Meals on Wheels to have the pet food delivered.”

Many shelters across the country have experienced an adoption rush the last few months —a few have even seen all their animals leave the premises.

“It makes sense that in a time of crisis people seek out the companionship that a pet can provide,” Dobson said.

ROAR had 21 animals (one cat and 20 dogs, including 19 puppies) adopted in March.

“That’s kind of an average month for us,” Dobson said. “Last March we had 25 adoptions.”

Along with many shelters throughout the country, ROAR did get more reach-outs from people looking to foster animals.

“We have 10 animals, all dogs and puppies, out on fosters,” Dobson said. “That’s way more than usual. We usually have just a few animals fostered at any one time.”

Dobson said she and the ROAR staff are unsure of what to expect once coronavirus restrictions are lifted and society returns to some sense of normalcy.

“A lot of it is unknown,” she said. “For instance, there could be a slowdown in animal transports. We have transports with three rescues in the south (two in Mississippi and one in Florida) and receive the majority of our dogs from them.”

Also unknown is whether the country’s economic slowdown will lead to a surge in available animals: Shelters and rescues were flooded with dogs and cats during the 2008 recession.

“That could happen, unfortunately,” Dobson said. “We are a small shelter ... we have 15 kennels and can hold between 30 and 40 animals at most. One thing we could do is have more animals out on fosters. That would open room in our kennels and allow us to accept more dogs and cats.”