Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Animal Shelter Sees Bump In Adoptions, Foster Homes Amid Pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of unscheduled time for people who are sheltering in place. Some are using these unscheduled hours to spoil their pets.

LUIS QUINTANILLA: One of our cats - we dressed him up in, like, a Easter-themed outfit, and we put, like, fake Easter eggs all over his little kennel area. You know, he's just a little cat with a grumpy-looking face. And it was just the cutest thing.

SIMON: That's Luis Quintanilla from Harlingen, Texas, where he is the executive director of the Humane Society there. He considers all of the animals in the shelter to be his pets until they're adopted. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Luis Quintanilla and his staff have been working hard to make certain their animals get the love and the care that they need.

QUINTANILLA: Our operations now compared to before the pandemic are - you know, they're fundamentally transformed. It's an uncertain environment. There is no guarantee that adopters will come to our parking lot to find an animal at home. There's no guarantee that a foster will step up and take home an animal for the next couple weeks. There's no guarantee that live outcomes will happen, but it is a guarantee that animals will come into our shelters.


QUINTANILLA: When animal shelters run out of space, euthanasia often becomes an option. It's terribly sad for a healthy animal to be euthanized solely because a shelter runs out of space.


QUINTANILLA: We at the Humane Society of Harlingen are luckily in a position where our kennels are mostly empty, and that's due to getting animals out as quickly as possible into either the arms of adopters or foster parents or rescue organizations. The amazing community around us in the city of Harlingen has stepped up in a big way to foster a lot of animals from us. Our foster program at the start of this coronavirus pandemic, maybe 10 animals were in foster homes. Once we put out the call to our community telling them, hey, we don't know what's going to happen with this chaos that's increasing around the country, this uncertainty, within three days, we had over 80 animals in foster care, up from 10, you know?


QUINTANILLA: Probably close to a hundred animals have been adopted in the last few weeks. We waived all of our adoption fees. They were cut down to zero. You know, we changed our operations by doing only curbside services. So if somebody wants to come in to adopt an animal or to foster an animal, everything is done outside. We take the animal to them, to their vehicle at a safe distance, you know, for our staff and for those people.


QUINTANILLA: We need to be as imaginative as we possibly can be moving forward to save as many animal lives as possible. They're completely innocent. They don't have a voice without us. And, you know, now more than ever, the happiness and unconditional love of a pet, of a companion animal - that kind of joy is needed.


SIMON: Luis Quintanilla, director of the Humane Society of Harlingen, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information