We asked Emily James, who now serves as the interim Executive Director, how Heartland Humane Society is caring for its animals and managing under the stress of COVID-19. Emily shared the changes Heartland Humane has made to their advocacy and awareness efforts. Learn how you can help support the animals in their care.
Q: How has the emergence of COVID-19 affected Heartland?
A: Our message right now is that “We are still here.” We have been operating in service of homeless animals and the people who love them since 1966 and we will not allow current conditions to stop us, but we have certainly had to adjust.
For example, the pandemic really drove home how much we rely on funds from our downtown Corvallis thrift shop. With the stay-at-home order, the thrift shop is now closed to the public. With that closure, we lost 30% of our annual revenue.
Humane education programs are a cornerstone of our mission, but with gatherings banned we are no longer able to hold youth activities in the building. We pride ourselves on being an open facility where the public can come in and interact with the animals in our care, but in the interest of safety we closed the doors to the shelter on March 16th. Many of the animals in our care were taken in by loving foster homes. The halls are empty, and the kennels are quiet.
Q: What are your organization’s current priorities?
A: Heartland’s current priorities are providing for the animals in our care, preparing for intakes of animals from those whose health is affected and can no longer care for their companions, and for the inevitable onslaught of cats and kittens that we see every summer.
Q: What are your primary challenges right now and how are you dealing with them?
A: The primary challenge to Heartland right now is financial, as is certainly the challenge of every non-profit organization trying to fulfill their mission and every small business struggling to have something to come back to once this is over. In addition to losing 30% of our annual revenue with the closing of the thrift shop, with no traffic in the shelter, the small daily revenue generated by adoptions and services has all but dried up. We have had to undertake the painful process of restructuring our organization to a bare-bones model and let go of some of our amazing staff. We are looking at alternate ways to capture some financial support from the community in the realm of small fundraisers and grant opportunities, but we recognize there is only so much support to be spread around to so many worthy causes in a time of personal financial insecurity.
Q: Are there ways community members can help your organization?
A: Spreading the word about what Heartland Humane does for the community is one of the simplest ways to help. See the vital programs and services that are offered at www.heartlandhumane.org, find us on social media and share our posts, and tell someone who is in need that Heartland can help.
Monetary donations directly support Heartland’s work on behalf of people and animals. Consider making even a small gift on a monthly basis through the simple online platform on the website, join the Circle of Kindness, or sponsor a shelter pet to help them get adopted.
Donate supplies by visiting our In-Kind Donations page for a list of current needs and shop with our friends at Animal Crackers Pet Supply or donate off our Amazon Wish List.
People can also shop deals from our Thrift Shop online or check out our Ebay sales.
Q: Do you have a message you would like to share with the community?
A: Heartland has been inundated with messages about people still needing help, but also about people seeing this as a chance to add an animal companion to their family or open their home to an animal in need as a foster pet.
This situation is affecting all of us and despite the fear and uncertainty it brings, we have an unprecedented opportunity to come together and build a stronger community. We need to start now, by supporting each other and by simply being kind.
We are still here and so are you, and we will come through this together.