Anne Gamache says the kittens that keep her company while she works from home are also keeping her sane.
“Sometimes animals can be easier relationships than people – they have fewer demands, they have fewer interpersonal needs so they can be friends in ways that humans can’t,” said Gamache, a family therapist living in Andersonville who recently became a pet foster parent. “And I think that having an animal around the house, especially when you have to be by yourself, can be really helpful in staying emotionally afloat.”
A few days before Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois’ stay-at-home order on March 21, the Anti-Cruelty Society, along with other local shelters like PAWS Chicago and One Tail at a Time, pleaded with the public to foster animals – a preemptive move as they braced for an uptick in pets coming to shelters because of owners who were ill or who had lost income due to the pandemic.
“The idea was to lower the population of animals in this building so that if we had a need to do emergency housing for pets of people that were hospitalized we’d have the space to do that,” said Lydia Krupinski, the Anti-Cruelty Society’s chief program officer. “Let’s say someone has lost their paychecks and now they can’t pay for rent and their landlord isn’t working with them, they need a place for that animal to go while they couch surf until they get back on their feet – and that’s what we’re here for.”
The public appeal worked: in about two weeks, 154 animals from the Anti-Cruelty Society were placed in temporary foster homes and 131 animals were adopted to permanent homes.
Because cute animal videos make everything a little better. Lydia Krupinski of the @AntiCruelty Society walks me through the shelter's kitten nursery for my next @wttw story: pic.twitter.com/7jJHVbhXkW
— Evan Garcia (@EvanRGarcia) April 2, 2020
Though it’s closed to the public, the Anti-Cruelty Society continues to provide essential services, including the daily care of animals, rescuing and receiving emergency surrender animals as well as euthanasia services for pets who have reached the end of their lives or have complex health issues.
Today, fostering is done by appointment only and is limited to those who have completed the Anti-Cruelty Society’s training program. Adoptions have been temporarily suspended, though Krupinski says the shelter will soon go virtual with videoconferencing tools, an online application and screening process.
“The animal shelters, we’re here to provide the support the pets in Chicagoland need, so feel free to lean into us if you need resources or if you need help,” Krupinski said. “And in the meantime, we’re going to take care of all the animals in our care.”
Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia