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CNN Heroes: Pet adoption during the pandemic
04:08 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

If you’re looking for a silver lining during this pandemic, one place to turn is animal shelters.

Across the US, many shelters have used their social media accounts to post images of rows and rows of empty cages as a way to share news they didn’t anticipate:

All their animals were quickly adopted.

“We cleared the shelter! All of our adoptable animals have been adopted!” staff at Riverside County Animal Services in California shared on Instagram earlier this month.

Elsewhere in California, Sherri Franklin said she has also seen an uptick in adoptions through her San Francisco-based nonprofit, Muttville.

Franklin, who was named a CNN Hero in 2016, and her team rescue senior dogs from shelters and find them forever homes.

Under California’s shelter-in-place order, implemented six weeks ago, animal shelters are deemed as essential. However, Franklin made the decision to close hers for the safety of her employees and volunteers.

She and her team moved all 86 dogs out of their shelter and into foster homes – which is no small feat.

“What was really amazing was the community that poured in to help,” Franklin said. “We got over 200 foster applications in a week. We used to get 20 in a week.”

Franklin and her team worked fast to come up with new protocol to safely adopt out dogs and follow social distancing guidelines. The organization began doing virtual adoption meetings, where the foster parent introduces the dog to the potential adopters via Zoom or FaceTime.

CNN Hero Sherri Franklin's senior dog rescue is working to safely place dogs in forever homes during the pandemic.

“People really are on the edge of their seat,” Franklin said of the virtual meetings. “It’s almost like they want to reach out and touch that dog.”

Since adapting its process after the shelter-in-place order, the organization has adopted out 135 dogs.

“I hate to use this term, but the dogs are flying off the shelves,” Franklin said. “It is a time when people are looking for comfort, continuity and something they can focus on other than the crazy news.”

Zahar and Chris, who asked that CNN leave out their last names, had already been thinking about adopting a dog. When self-quarantine began, it seemed like the right time for them. So, the couple began the process to adopt Grannie, a senior terrier mix.

“For a lot of people during this period, nothing exciting is happening,” Chris said. “So, it was nice to have a whole new thing to explore over the past few weeks.”

Muttville has also altered its process for adopters to pick up their dog once the adoption has been approved.

The foster parent dropping off the dog and the adopter must wear masks and gloves. The dog is bathed right before the adoption and wears a brand-new harness. And the group has set up a system so dogs can be safely clipped to a fence during hand-off, allowing both parties to stay 6 feet apart.

“We really have homed in on every single step that could possibly have any kind of contamination,” Franklin said.

Though the process of adopting is a little different these days, Franklin thinks it’s a great time to adopt a dog. But she hopes that once Covid-19 is over, people continue to appreciate how important dogs can be in our lives.

“I really hope that as we move forward and we move on from this crisis mode, people really realize that dogs are there for us and that ultimately we should always be there for them,” Franklin said. “My dream and my hope is that shelters will continue to be empty.”

Want to get involved? Check out the Muttville website and see how to help.