OTTUMWA — Heartland Humane Society has seen an increase in adoptions since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Pam Ratliff, the facility’s manager, couldn’t be more thrilled.
“We’ve seen so many adoptions since the virus,” Ratliff said. “In a week and a half, we’ve seen people adopt 21 cats. We’re down to eight dogs at this point, too. We’ve had so many applications. It’s very exciting, and it feels really good.”
While happy many residents have adopted, Ratliff is concerned how many of them will continue to care for the animals once they go back to work and “things reopen and everything returns back to normal.”
“I really hope that people are taking the time to care for the animals,” she said. “I hope they’re going to have time for the animal; that’s the biggest concern. Hopefully they’ll have a plan in place when they do have to go back to work.”
The animals who still remain at the shelter are being taken out for walks and cared for by Ratliff and another employee. They’ve seen a decline in volunteers, but they’re doing the best they can to make sure the animals’ needs are met.
“They still need that interaction; we let them [dogs] run a few times a day,” she said. “We don’t take our job lightly even during this virus pandemic. We don’t have as many [volunteers] as we used to, but we’re able to get by. The interaction with people helps, though.”
Ratliff is also taking extra precautions, such as deep cleaning the facility, washing hands regularly and limiting the number of people coming to the lobby. She is also thinking of wearing a mask after hearing about the rising COVID-19 cases in the county. Although she said wearing masks benefits people, it has a less positive effect on the dogs and cats.
“While wearing masks is a good thing,” Ratliff said, “people need to realize that when they wear masks inside, it scares the dogs. It makes them standoffish.”
Despite the pandemic, Ratliff recommends residents adopt pets because it can reduce loneliness.
“It can certainly reduce loneliness,” she said. “There never is a dull moment, especially with my dogs. I know people who have been depressed and the best decision they made was to take in some animals. It can be pretty awesome.”
While adoptions are up, donations have fallen sharply.
“During this pandemic donations have plummeted,” she said. “Animals still need to be taken care of. We still rely on donations. If people have love in their hearts to give, I’d encourage them to give. If they have love in their hearts to adopt, they should adopt. In the midst of this — they need homes. It is a good time to adopt, too.”
Those interested in adopting or donating may call Ratliff at 641-682-1228.