What’s Next – May Sanctuary Update

Happy Summer!! It was such a relief to start seeing nature start exploding back to life this month. Leaves on the trees and blooms on the bushes have started to remind us all of what a “normal” summer is like. However, as much as nature is following it’s usual course, for us humans, we know that it won’t be a “normal” summer. We seem to have gotten past the worst of the pandemic effects in Connecticut, but it has not gone away, and returning to normal is still quite a way off. So what’s next for the sanctuary??

Holding Things Together
It’s been about ten weeks since we eliminated all but a very few volunteers from coming to the sanctuary to help out. This set up an urgent situation where the staff needed to take on the gigantic task of caring for the animals and the cottages, and getting the animals their needed entertainment by themselves. Everyone pitched in extra, including relief workers and staff from the Manchester offices, and we were able to hold things together. The dogs got out on trips, the cats got their play time, and the place was cleaned. We even managed to bring on and train some great new staff. But it has been hard work, and we can’t say that there haven’t been any cracks in the works. And while everyone here would quickly say they’d do anything for the animals in our care, the workload on the staff is simply unsustainable. So what’s next?

Risk vs. Need
I’m sure all of you volunteers out there are just ready and waiting to come back here and spread the love to all your furry friends. As much as we would love to open up the flood gates and let you all rush back in, the situation is unfortunately more complicated than that. Given how much the animals here are bonded to the staff and depend on them for their care, we need to do everything we can to make sure that the staff are protected from the virus that is still out there. That has some real challenges in these tiny buildings, where everyone touches so many things, like walkies and leashes on the dog side, and toys and brushes on the cat side. Another factor we need to address is the effect of these massive social changes on the emotions of the dogs and cats. Many of the cats struggled with the sudden vanishing of the volunteer traffic, while others flourished in the quiet. The return of volunteer traffic could be equally disruptive. Likewise, the dogs have become accustomed to their small group of close friends being their sole entertainment. Many of our dogs have proven shy and reluctant with expanding their social circle in the past, and will certainly need slow and cautious re-introductions now. All of these risks need to be managed and weighed against the needs we have to keep the sanctuary running and living up to our mission. So what’s next?

Pushing Ahead
After lots of planning and discussion, the Our Companions Sanctuary Team has formulated a road map forward. We have no set dates, but once some infection rate benchmarks occur and the statewide re-opening proves sustainable, we will start inviting back certain categories of volunteers. This will hopefully be very soon and will begin with the tuck in volunteers, since tuck in volunteers have the least interpersonal contact and perform very valuable functions. This both minimizes risk and fulfills the greatest needs. Once that transition is successfully managed, we will begin working to get day volunteers slowly re-introduced as safely as we can.

We know that this situation has not been easy on anyone, and we so greatly appreciate you all standing by us in this time. The gifts and kind words that we’ve received have meant so much to us. And now, going forward, we appreciate your support, patience, and understanding as we take some tentative steps toward something resembling normal. We miss you all and can’t wait to see you again!

While this past month has been such a challenge, it has also been filled some great adoption wins, especially in the cat world. Longtime residents Bonkers and April found their forever home, as did Luci and Maya. The cat team also had another in-one-day-out-the-next story with Olivia and Cleo 2 arriving and leaving this month. Our newest cat residents this month are Bandit, Mushu, Fritz, Sophia, and Arabella.

And, in a sad turn of events, sweet senior Cleo passed away this month.

On the dog side, the big news is that our favorite house elf, Dobby, was adopted this month. We were so excited to see our three legged wonder go home!

Thank you all so much for whatever way you support us and our mission. We couldn’t do it without you.