2020 was a challenging year and one like no other. No one anticipated what was to come, but by March, we were all under mandated stay at home orders during a global, rampant pandemic. The coronavirus had unprecedented, widespread impacts on households across America. And it not only impacted people, but animals too. However, throughout it all, American Humane has been on the frontlines. Now, we take a look back at what we accomplished.
At the outset of COVID-19, as theories regarding the spread of coronavirus grew, we at American Humane took steps to calm pet-owners’ fears. In China, families were abandoning pets at alarming numbers and there were reports that cats and dogs were being put down, or even brutally killed, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We spread the word that there was no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus.
As we continued to face the worst pandemic in modern history, accompanied by the fear and loneliness that come hand in hand with the isolation of mandatory quarantining, we took to the airways explaining how we could use the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of animals – and our own – by fostering or adopting a “pandemic pet.” Animals can alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness and social isolation, helping people manage their long-term mental health conditions. Fostering a shelter animal is therefore a win-win – you can save a life while also benefitting your own.
Together, we managed to empty the shelters in many large, urban areas. However, rural shelters were instead seeing an influx of animals as pet owners struggled with the financial impacts of COVID-19 as well as the illness itself. Animals continued to be abandoned as their owners struggled to make ends meet.
Like every other business or organization in America, rescues and shelters were, and still are, struggling to maintain basic services and care for their animal residents. Many are in a serious financial crisis as they weren’t able to host their usual fundraisers, and they are in desperate need of general supplies. Detrimental natural disasters including hurricanes and wildfires have further heightened the situation. As a result, we launched the “Feed the Hungry” COVID-19 fund to feed and care for animals across the country who have been abandoned.
To date, we have provided 77 grants to shelters and rescue organizations across 35 states, supplying approximately 650,000 meals to hungry, homeless animals. This lifesaving effort is ongoing and working to deliver one million meals.
But we didn’t stop there. We also crafted our New Deal for Animals, People and the World We Share – a 10-point plan to build a more humane and ethical world. We continue to call on policy makers to enforce the tenants of the plan and fix the broken social contract that we, who sit at the top of the evolutionary chain, have with every other animal that roams planet Earth.
Throughout the year, we likewise leapt to the rescue following horrendous natural disasters. When Louisiana was battered by yet another hurricane, we were there to transport pets to safety and to loving homes. Our team also rushed to California as raging wildfires decimated the state leaving thousand of animals homeless and terrified. We provided shelter and care to hundreds of animals in need, treating burn victims and providing a safe haven and warm hug.
Additionally, despite the pandemic, we continued to execute on all our programs – training lifesaving service dogs for veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war, transporting retired military dogs thousands of miles back home to where they belong, saving critical species around the world, auditing zoos and aquariums, keeping animals actors safe on film sets and ensuring the humane treatment of farm animals.
None of these critical feats would have been possible without your generosity – thank you for being a friend to animals. Please share this video to spread the word about our accomplishments in 2020. In 2021, our goal is to touch even more lives.