As Calgary begins to open up again, many of us are reflecting on the unusual months gone by. While all of us had different experiences during the COVID crisis, we’re sure most will agree that life in quarantine wasn’t always easy. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for many of you to discover the cure to any quarantine craziness: a feline friend! Indeed, since the announcement of the citywide restrictions in March, we received a continuous stream of applications from people looking to adopt.
The huge influx of adoption applications may have taken us all by surprise, but there was no better team to handle it than our Adoption Specialists. Fueled by a desire to find each and every cat the best home possible, Shannon, Jodi and Stephanie put all of their energy into processing these applications as fast as they could. However, before they could invite anyone to the Adoption Centre to meet their potential new furry family member, some new safety measures had to be considered.
“The first changes were the new protocols that we had to put into place for everyone’s safety, including cats, adopters and staff. There was also quite a bit of rescheduling that had to take place to ensure we had enough time to put the protocols into practice,” explains MEOW Adoption Specialist Shannon McDonald. “Staff also had to step up to clean the adoption rooms and feed the cats on a daily basis.”
The changes didn’t stop there. With the COVID situation and the subsequent regulations shifting on a daily basis, we were constantly determining new ways to adapt.
“We had to structure our days more to ensure that we can do as many possible showings in a day, while also having the time in between to disinfect everything between showings,” explains Shannon.
In order to safeguard the well-being of our foster parents, we decided to bring all foster kittens and adult cats back to the Adoption Centre for their showings. This added to the workload of our Adoption Specialists, who needed to make sure that there was space to welcome our old friends back to the centre. Luckily, we had some extra hands on board. Adoption Specialist Jodi Butler joined the MEOW team in January and they certainly couldn’t have arrived at a better time!
“It’s definitely been interesting adapting to the role during COVID. I feel like I was just hitting my stride when I had to go into self-isolation and then I was temporarily laid off, and now I’m working from home,” they say. “It’s been a big adjustment not working at the Adoption Centre – I miss all the cats! However, my cat Korra is definitely enjoying my working from home!”
We also had the assistance of Flex-time Adoption Specialist Stephanie Chamberlain, who has been juggling adoption interviews with her teaching career.
“It was great being able to help out during this crazy time, with hundreds of applications! It was also the first time we really got to work together as an adoption team, and my first time working with Jodi. It was so nice to connect and feel like we’re making a small difference during this crazy time in the world,” she says.
Throughout a sea of changes and uncertainty, our Adoption Specialists continued to worked tirelessly through applications and before long, we had an adult cat adoption wait-list. With our Intake Department limited to emergencies only, we simply didn’t have enough friendly adult cats to go around!
Despite the busy days, the huge interest in adopting was very much welcomed by all at MEOW Foundation, particularly our Adoption Specialists, who have found great joy in watching many cats find their forever families.
“These have been quite difficult and busy times, but I am glad that people see companion animals as being important and that they deserve the best life possible!” says Shannon.
The many shy cat adoptions have proven to be a highlight for Shannon, with the adoption of Cornflakes being her favourite of them all. Indeed, seeing shy cats being welcomed into the homes and hearts of adopters has also helped Jodi through these unusual times.
“Seeing the adoptions of shyer cats who have been hard to find adopters for has been so wonderful! I’ve cheered at my computer screen quite a few times,” they say.
Stephanie has also found great joy in seeing these cats find homes, while the synergy and shared passion between the team has been another huge motivator.
“My favourite thing was when all three of the Adoption Specialists were working on completing interviews at the same time. It felt like we were accomplishing a lot together, which was extremely motivating. It was nice to feel part of a team while we have been isolated at home.”