Updated: Jul 12, 2021
by Jolene Anderson
COVID-19 has affected millions of people around the world, but recent reports say that animals can contract the virus as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this only occurs when the animal contracts the virus from humans and from there, transmits it to another animal, but it is unknown whether the virus can be transmitted directly from animal to human (If You Have Pets).
Shelters like Valley Animal Center and Animal Rescue of Fresno have taken precautions, such as requiring masks and scheduling appointments for adoption and foster care to prevent the exposure of COVID-19 to their animals and employees. Even so, many animal shelters like these are hit hard by quarantine and COVID-19 restrictions. For example, only a limited amount of staff are allowed in the shelters, and fewer people are willing to leave their homes to visit the center, resulting in a decrease in adoptions.
It is because of this that seniors Cara Coombs and Thomas Stockton have chosen to help out Valley Animal Shelter and Animal Rescue of Fresno for their Senior Legacy Experience (SLE), calling their project, “A Comfort For Our Furry Friends in a Shelter.” In an interview with Coombs and Stockton, they explained that the SLE is like a virtual toy drive. In collaboration with Valley Animal Shelter and Animal Rescue of Fresno, they assembled two Amazon lists filled with toys and essentials for both dogs and cats, which when bought will be directly sent to the animal shelters. “It seemed like a nice thing to do,” said Stockton. Coombs added, “My reason behind why is because it is a way I can help animals in the shelters without volunteering because my allergies make it harder for me to be around animals.”
According to Stockton, the two had other ideas of what to do for their SLE that revolved around helping out more animal shelters, but ultimately, they settled on this plan. “We also had the idea that if the school came back next semester, we would drop off boxes at the school,” said Coombs. “But that got taken out because of COVID-19 restrictions.” Because returning to school was unlikely, Coombs and Stockton took to working with the shelters to create Amazon gift lists
Both Coombs and Stockton agree that creating the Amazon lists was tedious; all the toys began to look the same after a while. During the interview, they shared the modifications they put on the lists, such as the donations going directly to the shelter to minimize contact, different price ranges like “low to high” if money was a problem, and quotas to track what has been donated and what still needs to be donated. The Amazon lists were sent out on Nov. 18 and are set to close on Christmas but may be extended depending on how much of the products are still on the list. According to Coombs, even if someone cannot donate, another way to help is to help bring publicity by sharing on social media to help get the word out.