Even with COVID-19 still taking up a large part of everyday life, animal lovers are still finding ways to help out. During these difficult times, Kathy Collins, a Director at Trenton Cats Rescue and her team were able to rise to the occasion and address unexpected challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Last March, when the pandemic became a growing concern in the United States, Trenton Cats Rescue had to take action quickly. Due to many stores shutting down, they were no longer able to hold adoption events at locations such as PetSmart or Pet Valu with ease. “We had to go get all our cats out, get all our stuff out,” said Collins.

In addition to the end of adoption events, animals being fostered at these stores were suddenly forced into homelessness. Immediately, Trenton Cats Rescue scrambled to find foster homes for the cats that were currently housed at these locations. Although an unanticipated job, the Rescue was able to successfully relocate the cats.

At the early stages of the pandemic, the rescue was losing more than just a handful of in-person adoption events. With the uncertainty behind business and global health in April, the organization had lost some foster homes and volunteers for the cats. However, as time went on, there was a substantial increase in locals wanting to foster cats.

An issue that still remains for the organization is the loss of funding that comes from a lack of adoption and outreach events. Before coronavirus, the Rescue was able to hold a unique array of fundraisers that brought in a substantial amount of monetary support from community members. Events ranging from BINGO nights to bus trips were a fun way to raise money for the organization. Often, these fundraisers would bring in over $1,000, all of which was used for supporting the sheltered animals.

Unfortunately, the Rescue has been unable to start up these fundraisers again due to health protocols and the safety surrounding those involved with helping the cats. Funding for the cats is currently being raised through adoption fees and individual donations.

When talking about the people who contribute monthly through individual donations, Collins said, “That all adds up….It’s something we can count on.”

The adaptations have been continuously growing for Trenton Cats Rescue as the pandemic becomes easier to manage. They now hold adoption events at The Healthy Animal in place of Pet Valu, which has since closed all of its stores due to COVID-19.

In light of all the hardships, Trenton Cats Resuce has seen one positive – the increase in adoptions. Their typical yearly adoptions ranged from 600-650 cats in previous years. During the pandemic, it rose to around 920 at the end of 2020. Cats of all ages were being adopted, not just the kittens, but older ones as well, which is a silver-lining to all of the hardships COVID-19 has brought to the Rescue.

Looking towards the future, Collins is hopeful but still cautious, when considering the health of their volunteers and community members. It is a priority to consider before planning events moving forward.

“As soon as it’s allowed, we’ll probably try to schedule something, maybe make it smaller so we can spread out more,” said Collins.

When it comes to volunteering, Trenton Cats is always looking for people to help out. To learn more about Trenton Cats Rescue or opportunities to volunteer, visit: https://www.trentoncats.org/

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