We all started out the year 2020 with such hopes and dreams never knowing that within weeks those dreams would turn into nightmares. As rumors of the virus began to spread, fear became everyone’s constant and we soon realized that our little shelter was going to have to make major changes were we to remain open.
Our business model has allowed us to rescue dogs into a brick and mortar facility versus operating as a foster organization. Neither one is better than the other because they both save dogs which is what matters. But our vision has always been to rescue straight to adoption so that the dogs have as few changes as possible after they come to Wisconsin.
Daycare, boarding, and grooming generated income to pay our monthly bills so that we could bring in not only puppies and certain breeds that are in high demand, but also seniors, those with vision, hearing, or other health issues, and dogs who aren’t as easily adoptable. We knew from the beginning that every dog deserves a forever home.
The Safer-At-Home order effectively shut down every source of income we needed to continue running NEW PAWSibilities. Unlike larger shelters with national ties we do not have an endowment fund, we don’t own our building, and we also don’t get guidance from our umbrella corporation. We also knew that we had to keep bringing dogs from the high-kill shelter to safety and connecting them with people who wanted nothing more than to open their homes and hearts to the perfect dog.
As you know, we are working hard to make adoption a reality for more people, but the bottleneck of dogs created by COVID-19 has made it frustrating. As an organization, NEW PAWSibilities has had to change the way we do business. People who want a dog need to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to finding their perfect pet. We have had people drive from, among other places, the UP, Minneapolis, Southern Illinois, and from all areas of Wisconsin. It’s not unusual to put dogs online at 4:00 and receive over one hundred applications within a few hours followed by hundreds more before bedtime. This is on top of the hundreds and hundreds of approved applications from people who have been looking to adopt for up to six months.
Our policy has always allowed that people can place a non-refundable, non-transferable deposit to hold dogs. We have stressed that this is not the way we prefer doing things but it’s worked very well during this time. The problem is that people who choose not to go that route, and it’s totally understandable why for many it’s not an option, find themselves once again out of luck. Early this month we had eighteen dogs and we began taking telephone credit card calls at 8:00 and by 8:40 every dog was spoken for! People who truly thought they had a chance at getting a dog if they arrived before 9:00 nearly broken down in tears hearing the news that once again there were no dogs.
Last week we had a brainstorming session and decided to do an invitation-only sneak preview on Thursday for some adopters who fit the criteria of having an approved application for three or more months and had been actively looking for a dog to adopt that was similar to dogs we knew were coming in. We know it’s been disappointing to try each week only to go home without a dog. People on the preview list have been patient and kind, followed the protocols, and were genuinely happy for the dogs who found great families even when they went home empty-handed.
We had a first-come, first-visit sign-up sheet as usual, and everything else remained unchanged. Not everyone who received an invitation could make it but it went well. We felt confident we would still have dogs on Friday which is what happened. We believe it was a good idea and we are looking at repeating this in the future.
We are looking at doing another preview the day before open visitation. Typically we post the new dogs on Thursday between noon and 4:00 depending upon how many we have and when we get all the photos and bios ready to go. We have been open on Friday from 9:00 – 5:30 and if there are dogs who are still looking for the right family we will open on Saturday, too. These days are always based on when the transport is scheduled but we will give advance notice each time we get dogs. The Thursday preview this week was from 4:00 – 7:00.
If you have had an approved application on file with us and are interested in coming to meet dogs on the Thursday prior to our next adoption Friday please feel free to message us through Facebook or email [email protected] Please make sure to note the name on the application so that we can send the invitation to the email of record. We understand that with more people going back to work this schedule might not work for everyone but with our current staffing we are doing the best we can.
Thank you for hanging in there with us as we work to find homes for our dogs. We love that we have so many families who want to include a dog in their family and we will continue to be as creative and flexible as we can be to make adoptions happen.