Amidst COVID-19, this Terryville Animal Shelter Struggles to Stay Alive

Amidst COVID-19, this Terryville Animal Shelter Struggles to Stay Alive

Campbell Karanian

Although shelter animals throughout the nation are not required to adorn face masks or socially distance amongst themselves, these critters are still coming snout to snout with consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fluctuating adoption rates, decreased funding, and frequent closures are all problems innocent cats and dogs have faced throughout the past eight months.

In particular, the Terryville Rescue Animal Foundation (ARFCT) has been abruptly thrown into a dire situation. Founded in 1971, ARFCT is a no-kill, non-profit shelter that continuously takes in animals in need. Providing them with a safe and loving location to live until a forever home is found, this shelter has been a haven for numerous stray animals. Despite its lengthy history, Kathleen Johnson, president of ARFCT, has many doubts regarding how much longer the facility will survive.

“We’ve been open since the 70s, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, we’re just trying to stay open,” Johnson states with an exasperated sigh.

Entirely run by volunteers, the shelter relies heavily on assistance from the local community to stay afloat. Unfortunately, this has proven challenging in the recent times of the brutal onslaught that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally planning to host a fundraising event in a bowling alley in early October, ARFCT had to cancel these plans due to social distancing guidelines and public facilities’ closures.

“We’ve had to stop our fundraising completely; we are doing zero fundraising,” Johnson expresses, revealing the harsh reality of her shelter’s status.

On the shelter’s official website, a past fundraising ad is tainted with the word “POSTPONED,” the bolded letters plastered over the graphic. Just like every other event, its fate has been decided by COVID-19.

The sudden cut-off of funds is brutal for ARFCT, leaving the facility in desperate need of thousands of dollars. With limited options, the only upcoming potential income source is a Christmas wreath sale, starting on November 28th and going into December. Johnson, and the cats and dogs residing in the facility, are counting on this wreath sale to provide a sense of reassurance.

Adding to the already pressing issues, raising funds is not the only thing that has come to a halt at ARFCT. Adoption rates have been significantly decreasing as well over the past months.

Maxwell the cat available through ARFCT on Petfinder

Johnson recalls how at the beginning of the year, “From January to June, adoptions were booming.” However, according to what she has recently observed, “they’ve slowed way down.”

The reasons for this trend are unclear, and Johnson has rigorously wracked her brain in an attempt to explain the unexpected change. She has tried to find the root cause in quarantine, the holidays, and even the economy. Still, the justification for the ever-changing adoption rate remains a mystery.

With more animals stagnant in the shelter than usual, ARFCT requires even more funding than before. Yet state restrictions present an unbeatable obstacle in collecting funds from local community events. Right now, an essential act of kindness that CT residents can offer is monetary donations. No matter the magnitude, these offerings would still contribute to keeping the shelter open another day.

“We are really, really hurting,” Johnson bluntly admits, and soon, individual animals will begin to suffer as well.

The coronavirus’s evil presence leaves none unharmed, reaching its poisonous tendrils to even the most innocent of animals. Although community members should physically distance themselves, they should still come together to assist each other, including their local animal shelters.