ATLANTA — One of North Atlanta’s few animal shelters remaining open, Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelter, has sustained some major financial hits during the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit, headquartered in Atlanta, is a no-kill shelter that regularly partners with the Petco Foundation to serve the Atlanta area with 13 adoption centers. As the pandemic has continued to spread however, several of its facilities have closed, and Furkids’ operations have drastically changed.
Like many businesses and nonprofits, Furkids now lives in a state of uncertainty.
“It’s impacted our life as we know it,” said Samantha Shelton, CEO and founder of Furkids. “We’re taking it a day at a time, just trying to provide for the fundamental needs for our animals, our staff and the public to keep them safe and supported at this time.”
After Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter in place order was issued April 3, Furkids was forced to close its three thrift stores and furlough some of its staff. The move comes as a “huge disturbance” for the organization, Shelton said, as the thrift stores alone provide about 35 percent of its annual funding.
That, coupled with the cancellation of its annual fundraiser in March, has been a large financial blow for Furkids. The fundraiser provides vital revenue for the nonprofit leading up to spring and summer, its busiest seasons, Shelton said.
Past fundraisers have on average raised $150,000.
“Will people be able to continue to support nonprofit animal shelters?” Shelton said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
For the health and safety of the public and its staff, Furkids has also temporarily suspended volunteer programs. It is still taking in and adopting out animals, and adoptions are now being carried out, one-at-a-time by appointment only.
However, Shelton said there is a silver lining to the situation: adoptions at FurKids have gone up, especially for dogs.
“It’s been very heart-warming for us in the industry nationwide,” she said. “People have been showing up and wanting to adopt, seeing this as an opportunity to add a new family member by adopting... There are, I think, a lot of lonely people in their homes right now, and they’re looking for that companionship. We’re thrilled that they realize the companionship of a pet is so worthwhile.”
On April 6, for example, Shelton said Furkids had five dogs and has capacity for 65.
“The numbers are way down in the building, which is a cause for celebration,” she said. “But we also want to be able to go out and save more dogs at this time.”
Furkids has also moved several animals into foster homes and is urging others to consider fostering during the pandemic to open up more space in the shelters. It is actively reaching out to other area shelters, especially those that have closed, to see if there are any animals in need of help.
One of the best ways people can support Furkids and its mission at this time is through cash donations or by buying items on its Amazon wish list, Shelton said.
The shelter annually helps about 5,000 animals. Furkids staff are currently bracing themselves for an uncertain “kitten season,” as more kittens without mothers tend to be brought to the shelters in the coming weeks.
“It takes a lot to provide for these animals,” Shelton said. “We survive off of donations. We do not receive government funding.”
To donate and for more information about Furkids’ operation changes or how to help, visit furkids.org.