Tell tails of the times

Animal shelters and people stuck inside tend to the animals during COVID-19


Molly Jenkin

Junior Molly Jenkin and freshman sister Riley Jenkin play with their new puppy Bentley. “She is super bubbly and energetic, so she gives us something to do,” Molly Jenkin said. “She is also quite ornery, so it’s never boring around here.”

Emma Baker, Staff reporter

As the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, people may be noticing another rise in something a little bit more wholesome: pet ownership.

At the beginning of the year, the health service company Cigna reported that 3 out of 5 Americans feel lonely, a feeling only amplified in the wake of social distancing and self-quarantining. However, studies also show that pets can significantly boost a person’s mood. What better time than now, with everyone home, to train new puppies, snuggle up with a foster kitten or adopt a cool critter?

“A lot of people are getting dogs,” Pam Wiese, the Nebraska Humane Society’s Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing, said. “I think the idea of having a reason to get out of the house is a big incentive. They can get a pet used to the home and enjoy the companionship.”

While it is always great to adopt, fostering is also hugely beneficial for the shelters, animals and people that take them into their home. It allows for better care for the animals and keeps the humans busy, but most importantly, happy. 

Patty Russell, mother of Millard West junior Robert Russell, is a board member at Town and Country Humane Society. She works alongside Boarding Supervisor Tisa McKim and, together, they are working to relay the importance of fostering animals during this time.

“Fostering has been the primary reason we could continue with transports at all,” Russell said. “We took in about 30 puppies in March. We received 19 new foster applications in that time. People have really stepped up to help us save these animals from being euthanized.  It’s been amazing.”

Junior Molly Jenkin, a person on the opposite side of the pet ownership process, has had an equally amazing experience in the confines of her house. She welcomed a second furry friend to her home recently: A spunky French bulldog puppy named Bentley. She admits the task of receiving her precious pooch was quite different than normal.

“The process was a little bit crazy because the litter was from two hours away,” Jenkin said. “The seller sent us pictures all of the time because we didn’t have the opportunity to visit before we got her. Once she was old enough, we met the lady at Cabela’s, signed some paperwork, paid and took her home.”

To comply with all coronavirus mandates, shelters have had to work differently as well.

“During COVID-19, to limit exposure and comply with social distancing, we are running by appointment only,” Russell said. “Available animals are on our website for viewing. If there is one that interests them, the potential adopter can email or call the office. They are screened over the phone by asking questions for the pet they are interested in. Once their application is complete and approved, an appointment will be set to come meet the animal. If all goes well, they can take the animal home with them after executing the contract and making payment.”

The Nebraska Humane Society operates in a very similar manner. They are lowering adoption prices in hopes to get animals out and into homes faster, and shuttering elective surgeries to avoid draining the supply of masks, gloves and other PPE for human doctors. The NHS is also desperately trying to reduce the number of animals they intake during this time. 

“We are being proactive on the intake side by offering a more robust pet food pantry for folks in need, so they can keep their pets, and asking folks who are surrendering an animal to not do it unless it’s an emergency,” Wiese said. “We are also asking folks who find animals to hold onto them if they can, and file a report with us, but also post on the “Lost Pets of Omaha” Facebook page and neighborhood apps so that folks can find their pets a little quicker.”

For now, though, we can rest assured many pets are happy in their new homes. Senior Hannah Schnuerle’s new pomeranian pup Olly is soaking up all the quality time with his new loving family.

“There’s a lot of benefits to having a dog,” Schnuerle said. “With only having one dog it was good, but 100% it does make quarantine better because now there’s two of them I can play with. I would recommend getting a dog during this time because it makes it a lot easier to get through all this stuff.”

To make sure shelters like the Nebraska Humane Society and Town and Country Humane Society can keep up all the great work, they say donations are a giant help. Since they run on volunteers and their main pipelines of funding are shut down (like Town and Country’s boarding and grooming businesses), they need the community’s help now more than ever. 

Visit their websites at and for more information on how you can help.