Operating Amidst COVID-19

*Updated Wednesday, May 13, 2020*


Q: Are you closed?
Not completely. But to walk-in visitors, yes. We were closed completely from March 25-May 4, but began operating by appointment only on Tuesday, May 5. Here are the current operating procedures for each Department, and how to get in touch with us for what you're needing:

  • Adoptions: We are resuming Adoptions beginning Tuesday, May 5 by appointment only. The general public may not walk in & browse until further notice. If you are interested in adopting a pet -- hooray! Here's how to do that.
    • First, fill out an Adoption Application online for the animal you are most interested in. (Under the main menu, hover over "Adopt" and click the page of the animal you're interested in -- Dogs, Cats, or Rabbits.) This does NOT lock you in to that animal if they end up not being a good fit once you meet them... it just gives us some general information about your household so we can help you find a good fit. It also gives us an idea which animals could be adopted soon. If you choose another animal once you get here, you do not have to fill out another application.
    • After your online application is approved, our Adoptions team will contact you to set up an appointment. Please be patient -- this could take a few days. This is longer than it would normally take, but these are new circumstances for all of us and we care about your safety and our team's safety.
    • You must wear a mask to enter our facility. We also ask that you bring as few people as possible... a limit of 2 people per household is recommended.
    • We are implementing extra cleaning protocols to keep our lobby and restrooms as clean as possible. We have installed cough guards at our counters, and as always, hand sanitizer is available throughout the building. 
    • When you arrive for your appointment, we will let you visit with the animal you applied for first, and then see others as needed. We are only scheduling a few appointments at a time, and we are doing so strategically so that there is not more than one family in any given area at a time including the Cageless Cat Lounge.
    • Once you choose an animal, we will complete the adoption and you can take the animal home the same day as long as they are spayed or neutered already, and the vast majority of them are. 
    • We ask that you bring your smartphone with you, because we are able to do contactless checkout with a debit/credit card simply by sending a text to your phone! If at all possible, please do not bring cash.

  • Our Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic has resumed scheduling new spay/neuter appointments. If you already have a spay/neuter appointment scheduled, please review our updated drop-off and pickup procedures here before your appointment.

  • Our Low-Cost Vaccine Clinics will resume on Saturday, May 16th. Additional dates are listed on our website.

  • Our Intake Department is now scheduling appointments. Please note that it may be several days or even 1-2 weeks before we can schedule you for surrendering a pet. Do not wait until the last minute. If you think you may need to surrender an animal... make an appointment now, even if you have to cancel it later. Call (812) 426-2563 ext. 208 to get scheduled. Please review our Surrender information and fees here prior to your appointment.

  • Cardio for Canines will resume on Saturday, May 16th. We have new social distancing procedures in place to make sure everyone stays healthy during checkout and check-in.

  • We are suspending our Mutt's Morning Out program temporarily.

  • Our Happy Tails Resale Shop will reopen for SHOPPING on Saturday, May 23 from 8:30-3:00. We will begin taking DONATIONS again on Monday, May 18 from 9:00-3:00. After that, contactless donation hours moving forward will be Monday-Saturday from 9-3.

  • River Kitty Cat Café reopened on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 with 50% capacity in line with Governor Holcomb's recommendations. We will limit visitors in the cat lounge and in the cafe to 8 people at a time. Customers are encouraged to wear masks when possible. All employees will be wearing masks and a cough guard has been installed at the register. Hours will be as follows:

    • 11:00-6:00 Tuesday-Friday
    • 9:00-6:00 Saturday
    • 11:00-4:00 Sunday

      River Kitty cat adoptions have also resumed. Adoptions will now be done 100% onsite at River Kitty through contactless mobile checkout!

  • Emergency Food Assistance will return on Monday, May 18 from 12:00-3:00 in the rear parking lot. We have implemented some new social distancing procedures, and we ask for clients' patience.

Q: Why is public support continuously needed for the VHS?
The Vanderburgh Humane Society senior leadership team wants to stress to the public that donations and support are vital, now more than ever, to make sure that our animals are cared for and our team members can remain employed. The organization depends 100% on donations from the public and fees from in-person services & programming including. 

The VHS receives zero tax dollars or state/national funding from larger organizations.

We have experienced a reduction in public support due to the economic crisis, and the closure of our Happy Tails Resale Shop/reduction in River Kitty income has resulted in a significant drop in revenue to help offset expenses.

As a reminder, expenses remain largely unchanged because a team of paid staff members must always be here to care for the the shelter’s animals and the cats at River Kitty, without any interruption in their daily routines... and that takes money. It costs about $58,000 just to operate the VHS for 2 weeks! If you are financially able:

Click here to donate online to our "Sit & Stay" COVID-19 Sustainability Fund.

As this crisis stretches on, pets must be taken into consideration when assessing families' needs. Our crucial services may become more important than ever before in the event that: 

  • Suspending spay/neuter services, as most shelters have had to do, means Kitten Season will be even more brutal than the past several years have been.
  • Households already experiencing spousal/domestic partner or child abuse, may see those situations escalating while everyone is home together. Pets are also at risk in these situations. We have already been contacted about pets needing placement through our Safe Pets program as victims try to flee their abusers.
  • Financial strain makes it more difficult for people to afford food & medications for their pets.
  • People fall ill or pass away and there is nowhere else for their pets to go.
  • Health care workers are away from home for longer hours, and need help caring for their own pets.

Q: How should pet owners prepare for coronavirus quarantines?
It is always a good idea, even in normal life, to keep a minimum supply of your pet’s needs in your home. It is important now more than ever that pet owners be prepared. Some tips to consider:

  • Food. Families should ensure that they have at least a 2-week supply (preferably longer) of their pet’s food, particularly if that food is prescription or specialty and must be ordered online. Grocery stores & pet stores are considered essential businesses, and will not close.
  • Medication. Just as you would for your own medicines, be sure that your pet’s prescriptions are filled for an extended period.
  • Check with your regular veterinarian to verify their telemedicine policies, if they have any. See what options you have if your pet becomes ill or injured, but you need to avoid going out in public. Verify your vet clinic's hours so you know where to turn if your pet needs emergency veterinary care during this crisis. Seeking urgent veterinary care for a pet in crisis is considered "essential" in Indiana.
  • Homebound pet owners. Residents should be mindful of their elderly family members or neighbors who have pets. Check in with them by phone to make sure that they have what they need and do not need to go out in public to get it.

Keep in mind that being able to order products online is dependent upon a lot of factors. Even if grocery stores & pet supply stores are well-stocked now… pandemics can shut down a lot of cities and companies in a short period of time. Supply chains could easily be interrupted. Wherever your pet’s supplies are coming from, be sure that you have what you need just in case there are manufacturing, distribution, or shipping delays.

Q: Can I catch coronavirus from my pet, or vice versa?
There is zero evidence that COVID-19 can be widely transmitted from people to pets or vice versa. The week of April 20, 2 domestic cats in New York reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Of these 2 cats, only 1 had an owner who was COVID-19 positive, and the other cat in that household is asymptomatic. Both cats are currently stable at this time. A dog also tested positive the week of April 27th. That dog had a COVID19-positive owner and the other 2 pets in the household are asymptomatic. 

There is no reason to panic, as there are still ZERO documented instances of people catching it from their pets. Families should simply adhere to social distancing guidelines with their pets as well as with the human members of their household.

Domestic cats can catch their own versions of coronavirus, which has been the case for many years. But it is not the same strain as COVID-19.

Information from the ASPCA regarding COVID-19 and pets

Q: What activities can my children and I do at home to help the animals?
Check out our blog on some crafts, activities, and reading lists (plus other ways grownups can help!) for families quarantining at home!