Dear volunteers,

Exactly 52 weeks ago, our Novato campus, Kitty Corner, and Thrift Shop went eerily silent. Most of the resident animals were sent to caring foster homes, volunteers and non-critical staff were asked to go home, and we began a new era in our organization’s history. After measuring our spacing in increments of six feet, adding facial masks to our daily uniform, and spending thousands of hours in Zoom Rooms, we want to acknowledge the one-year anniversary since our first shelter-in-place order took effect. It’s been a difficult year for so many, and yet, there are many silver linings.  

In my nearly 40 years of working in animal welfare, I never imagined a time when we would not have enough homeless animals to meet the adoption demand or when adoptions might happen primarily through the use of phones, emails, Facetime or Zoom! COVID-19 forced many animal organizations, including Marin Humane, to rely more on appointment-based interactions. We also relied on the community more than ever in locating guardians of lost pets. We never stopped helping the community — we just provided more services remotely, safely and in many ways, more efficiently. Our adoption numbers only saw minimal decreases (compared to 2019) and our adopters really appreciated the personalized customer service they received during the new adoption process.

Thankfully, dog guardians and their canine companions were able to return to our training classes which were outdoors and smaller in size, and a record number of cat lovers participated in our virtual cat behavior workshops. Our teens continued to meet in our Student Clubs (via Zoom) and in 2020 our Pet Safety Net program distributed over 20,000 pounds of donated pet food to pet guardians in need (an all-time record).  In summary, we are experiencing an increased demand for adoptions, behavior and training classes, and assistance from our Pet Safety Net program.

Marin Humane is forging ahead with projects and plans for our post-pandemic world, knowing we’re not likely to be returning to exactly the same way things were before March 2020. This coming year we’ll be integrating Hopalong Animal Rescue as a new division of our operations. We’ve converted our former Animal Outfitters retail space to the new location of our Pet Safety Net program staff and supplies–recognizing the growing need to support families who are in crisis and to keep pets in their loving homes. Facility improvements continue around our aging campus, always keeping the safety and comfort of the animals a priority. For example, the pavilion roof was repaired, sound mitigation was installed in the animal housing areas, and we’ve applied for a permit to install a large generator to help us through future power outages. Marin Humane is also working on some new and exciting coalitions and collaborations in the year ahead as well as taking important steps to address issues around diversity, equity and inclusion in our policies and programs. So, stay tuned!

A Paycheck Protection Program loan (which has since been forgiven by the Small Business Administration) as well as the amazing, generous support from our donors provided Marin Humane with enough stability to keep almost all of our workforce whole and our essential services active. And for that, I am deeply grateful. 

A big THANK YOU to our volunteers, board members and employees for their continued compassion and dedication to making lives happy, 52 weeks in a row. As the COVID-19 restrictions begin to roll back and the number of people vaccinated against the coronavirus increases, Marin Humane will be carefully and methodically resuming many of our programs and services — some will continue to be offered remotely or may shift to meet the changing needs in our community. Please keep informed, get involved in any new initiatives if they’re of interest and of course, stay safe and healthy!

With gratitude,