In what seemed like a moment, every standard operating procedure changed for many animal welfare groups across the country.
Waggle's shelter and rescue partners say they're used to responding to emergencies, hurricanes, natural disasters, even massive animal seizures due to hoarding situations, but a pandemic, they had to reinvent the wheel, and quickly!
All of a sudden, adopters could no longer just head over to the shelter, go inside, and walk past all the kennels to find the perfect pet. Adopting now means meeting up with a shelter employee or foster outside, six feet away, and wearing masks.
Staff members and volunteers had to limit their time and proximity to one another in the shelter. There were no more hugs and high fives celebrating lives saved and victories.
In Eureka, California, the Sequoia Humane Society struggled because of the virus.
"We have had to close our shelter and our supporting thrift shops to the public. We still have many expenses that we must continue to fund in order to continue to provide care," Kelsey Sampson from the Humane Society says.
The shelter had two dogs with pressing medical needs they needed to raise money for right away.
One of the dogs was Maci, an adorable terrier mix who had a giant bladder stone the size of a chicken egg blocking her urinary tract. "The vet figured she must have had this issue for quite some time before we had gotten her," Kelsey says.
The Sequoia Humane Society uploaded a fundraising campaign for Maci on Waggle.org. It caught the attention of Waggle's media team, who contacted Eureka area television stations about Maci. KIEM-TV ran a story about the situation, people donated, and now Maci's vet bill is paid in full.
"Maci is doing great! She has been recovering in a foster home for the time being and has been letting her personality shine! Once she has gotten some more recovery time under her belt, she will be headed to a forever home! Thanks to all our donors," Kelsey says.
In Norwalk, Connecticut, PAWS, which stands for Pet Animal Welfare Society, had a dilemma.
The organization took in an adorable five-month-old pup named Luz, and soon after, staffers noticed something wasn't quite right. The puppy has a vascular hernia that needs to be surgically repaired by a specialist as quickly as possible. The operation is costly.
Problem is the shelter's donations took a huge hit when the COVID-19 crisis started.
"We have never closed, but we did drastically reduce the number of animals in the building through adoptions and fosters," Ellen Emmerson from Paws says. "We stopped allowing volunteers in, and those of us still working are doing multiple jobs and struggling to keep up. The biggest impact is that donations are almost nil."
Panicked, the group turned to Waggle and set up a fundraising campaign and is still seeking donations to help Luz.
Lucky Lab Rescue and Adoption, which saves dogs from the Midwest and the South, says its worried about the economic impact the virus will have on some pet owners.
"We've seen the effects money problems can have on families. They lose their homes because they can't afford the rent or mortgage and end up surrendering their dog to a shelter," Katherine Martin, President of Lucky Lab Rescue and Adoption says. "Sometimes, owners can't pay for their dog's medical bills and end up dropping them off at a shelter or animal control facility."
With the pandemic underway, Lucky Lab saved one pretty sick puppy, Ellie Abigail, from a shelter. She was clearly someone's family pet at some point. Sadly, the yellow Lab had the dog flu, a tickborne illness called Babesia, and a strain of a horrible canine respiratory disease.
The estimate for her veterinary care added up to thousands of dollars. The rescue immediately logged onto Waggle and created a fundraising campaign for her.
Waggle's team told World of Labs about Ellie Abigail's case. They shared her story with their followers, and soon after, her medical care was fully funded.
"Lucky Lab Rescue is overwhelmed since many municipal animal controls are closing to the public due to the coronavirus, and they are asking rescues to take as many dogs as they can. They are hoping that a lot of pets won't be euthanized as a result," Amy Te Grotenhuis, from Lucky Lab Rescue and Adoption, says.
Amy says the rescue was thrilled to tell Ellie Abigail's animal hospital the Waggle campaign raised all the money they needed for her care "It has made all the difference for Ellie. THANK YOU!!"
If you are a shelter or rescue group and need help paying for an animal's medical care, please go to Waggle.org. Become a Waggle Rescue & Shelter Partner to aid more pets under your care. 100% of funds raised go directly to your veterinarian.