The Frederick County Division of Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center continues to keep human health and safety a priority during these unprecedented times. However, as time moved along, we continued to brainstorm an innovative, but safe, means to animal adoptions. Last week we began a contactless adoption process for cats. Before implementing the process, we methodically addressed as many potential pitfalls as possible. Placing animals in loving homes with people willing to commit to those animals for life isn’t easy in the best of times. But now we are asking the community to trust us with playing matchmaker; and to commit to an animal they have never even met. While the process is still new, we can say with minimal reservation, so far so good.

Our first two virtual shelter adoptions were older, adult cats that had been at the shelter for a while. Clark just turned 9 years old and had been at the shelter for over two months, arriving as a stray. CiCi was 7 years old and had been at the shelter almost two months, surrendered when her family’s lifestyle changed. While we have just entered the world of virtual adoptions, K.A.T. Café has been our offsite counterpart and advocate, beginning virtual adoptions in line with our process. K.A.T. also had two cat adoptions last week —one of which was Deli, a cat surrendered over three months ago.

We expect to continue with virtual adoptions at least until we get back to business as usual. I say “at least” because both staff and adopters have had good experiences with the process. While it takes adopters more effort to document in writing the type of pet they are looking for, the pause for thought is beneficial in giving consideration to tolerable and intolerable animal behaviors. Not actually meeting the pet reduces the superficial influence that the appearance of an animal can have on getting an adopter’s attention. On the staff side, the lengthier process allows them to build more of a rapport with potential adopters and eliminates what is sometimes a seemingly mechanical adoption process.

We appreciate the families that have been patient as we launched this process and that have entrusted us with matchmaking efforts. Until we return to some type of normalcy in sheltering, we will continue to strive for innovative, lifesaving ways to serve our community animals and the people who love them.

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