SEVIERVILLE — Pandemic or no pandemic, dogs still need to be walked.
What was once a basic activity at animal rescues worldwide has been complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with some shelters seeing a drop in the number of volunteers who help provide regular exercise for dogs awaiting adoption.
Staffers at Sevier County Humane Society and Sevier Animal Care Center say they could use new volunteers to walk their dogs.
“We would be grateful to have more volunteer dog walkers, as the pandemic has changed the face of our volunteer program,” said SCHS board member Cheri Hagmeier. “Currently, (we have) only three dog walkers. We keep staff and volunteers socially distanced, and masks are required when in our building.”
At SACC, director Ashley Thomas has seen similar changes in volunteer availability since the pandemic started in early 2020.
“We honestly don’t have many people volunteering physically right now,” she said. “We did make a limitation that we only allow two volunteers to physically be in the building each day but typically do not fill that. I think people are still trying to keep their distance and be safe. We do have community service programs that help walk the dogs but can also use some more volunteers. We are asking that everyone wear masks and try to keep their distance from each other.”
An app recently developed by Best Friends Animal Society helps shelters nationwide raise money.
ResQwalk allows users to designate a specific animal rescue as the recipient of funds and resources. According to the society’s website, “Throughout the year, we’ll announce a ResQpool of cash and other helpful resources that have been provided by some generous corporate sponsors.”
Participating animal rescues can earn a portion of the pool. The app is free and available at Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
“We are loaded on the application, so people can click on us when they walk, hike or run,” Thomas said of SACC.
Hagmeier says the app turned out not to be a good fit as a fundraising tool for SCHS.
“We are not participating in the ResQwalk,” she said. “We reviewed the invitation when it came out, as it sounded like a great opportunity. However, after learning that it is not specific to walking a dog or even walking a shelter dog — SCHS being a small East Tennessee shelter — we thought there would be little return or benefit for our homeless pets.”
Dogs currently available for adoption at SCHS include a senior mixed-breed female named Geez Louise. She is estimated to be 8-10 years old.
On Sunday at noon, the shelter will have a litter of 10-week-old puppies available for adoption. Staffers refer to the four females and one male as the Baby It’s Cold Outside litter. They will be available to meet on a first-come, first-served basis.
At SACC, staffers continue to work from their leased space in a former car dealership on Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville. The animal rescue will move to a new location near the Sevier County Fairgrounds once construction of the facility has been completed. In an August 2020 interview, Sevier County Vice Mayor Bryan McCarter estimated that construction would take 18-24 months.
Sevier County Humane Society is located at 959 Gnatty Branch Road, Sevierville. Information is available at www.sevierhumane.org or 865-453-7000.
Sevier Animal Care Center is located at 1040 Dolly Parton Parkway, Sevierville. Information is available at www.sevieranimalcarecenter.com or 865-465-6300.
Contact Juli at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @NeilWatsonJ.