MANATEE COUNTY, Fla — Do you need some companionship while social distancing? Well, we have just the thing.
Manatee County Animal Services is in need of emergency fosters. They still have 33 dogs they are hoping to find fosters for and the number grows daily.
“As an open admission shelter we have to take in all the animals that are in need,” Hans Wohlgefahrt said.
Wohlgefahrt is the outreach and events specialist for Manatee County Animal Services. He said just last year they took in an average of 12 animals per day.
The ultimate goal is to find forever homes for the dogs and cats they take in, but right now they are desperate for even temporary housing.
“It’s so nice to have something to do right now while many of us are working from home,” Wohlgefahrt said. “To have someone to care for who we can get hugs and kisses from these pets really need that right now.”
Not only do the pets need this right now, but so do people.
“I can’t really express how important and how honestly this has helped me during this time,” Victoria Wenners said. “It’s stressful right now, and I think you get a little tickle in your throat and you’re like, gasp, do I have the virus?”
Wenners is one of Manatee’s emergency fosters. She’s taking care of Lollipop, a 4-year-old mixed breed.
“She’s very sweet with other people, and with me,” Weeners said. “She’s kind of a goofball and a bit of a bed hog, you know she just makes me laugh through all of this.”
Weeners said living alone during this pandemic an now quarantined lifestyle is tough. She’s wanted some companionship and friendship and that’s why she decided to foster.
“It gives me a chance to focus on taking care of her, to go for walks and not just sit and worry,” Weeners said.
She’s hoping others will do the same.
“I think it’s really important that we have something to distract us,” Weeners said. “I would say adopt and foster and let them into your heart because they’ll surprise you.”
Manatee County Animal Services has even made the process easier in order to attract more people.
“It’s a really simple process, they can go to our website and they just need to go to the volunteer page and if there’s a link right there for the emergency foster application,” Wohlgefahrt said.
They even have a behavioral specialist to make the best matches. You’ll still have to come to the shelter to meet the dog before taking them home, but it’s all done outside, and social distancing is followed.
Because of CDC guidelines, they do this by appointment only to limit the number of people at the facility.
“The Manatee County Animal Services has a wonderful program with the fostering express where they provide food and leash and the crate, even for Lollipop and I think it’s just a wonderful thing especially in the crisis we’re all facing right now,” Weeners said.
“We’ve had hundreds of applications and it’s been really great because I think this is a time where people need some joy and some hope and these animals really need the community right now, so it’s mutually beneficial,” Wohlgefahrt said.
Where they hit a roadblock is with their larger dogs that have more limitations when it comes to who can foster or adopt them. They’re looking for households that do not have kids, no other pets and preferably a fenced backyard.
“These are our only children pets so you know the criteria does definitely slim down, but I know there are 33 people in this community who are looking to do something helpful at this time and this is a great way to do it,” Wohlgefahrt said.
If you don’t fit the criteria, Wohlgefahrt says there are still ways to help! They need donations. They’re looking for six-foot leashes, large kong dog toys, peanut butter, kitten formula, Nyla bones, training treats and other toys.
If you want to donate they have a drop off bin outside the gate at their Palmetto location.