Keeping Up With COVID-19, 3/18: A Contagious Idea To Help Isolated Pet Owners

Written for the COVID-19 Shelter Kit by Katherine Shenar and Kim Alboum

A 32-year-old woman named Becky Wass living in the most southern tip of Britain in Cornwall, England has started a viral movement. A #ViralKindness movement to be exact. Her intentions were to help her neighbors who are self-isolating due to COVID-19. She designed and printed a card to place in mailboxes of her neighbors. The card offers to help with deliveries, shopping, supplies, or even a friendly phone call. The card was meant to extend kindness during a time of insecurity and fear – a way to warmly engage during this period of social distancing.

Long time animal advocate and Fearless Advocacy president and founder Jennifer Fearing, was impressed when she saw this #ViralKindness card mentioned on her Sacramento, CA, NextDoor app. It inspired her to print a few and distribute to her neighbors. Fearing also mentioned it on her Facebook page and fellow animal advocacy attorney Ledy VanKavage from Best Friends Animal Society expressed a wish that it mentioned something about your dog. And so the #ViralKindness pet card was invented – just that quickly. It isn’t fancy or complicated – it’s simply a card you place in your neighbor’s mailbox asking them how you can help them with their pets while they self-isolate. You can make dozens of them on a copier or print them out.

Or you can make Kindness Pet Cards for your organization and have animal services officers or volunteers canvas communities where the most at-risk pets are residing; pets that might be relinquished to shelters due to economic constraints or a simple inability to continue with pet care. This simple act of kindness might help keep pets with their owner and out of the sheltering system as we combat COVID-19. This simple, inexpensive card offers a small gesture with monumental possibilities.

We’re all feeling a little vulnerable these days, unsure of how COVID-19 will impact our lives. But one thing we know is that animals are joyful and their happiness is catching.

Special thanks to the SPCA Tampa Bay for use of their logo in the example card.

NEW: download this template that Best Friends created and add in your own logo!

About the Authors

Katherine M. Shenar brings 25 years of experience to her role as the executive vice president for The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. She often speaks on leadership development, organization culture, coalition building, marketing communications, fundraising, and emerging trends in animal welfare. 

As shelter outreach and policy engagement director at the Humane Society of the United States, Kim Alboum works to create nationwide partnerships, resulting in the placement of thousands of animals who were victims of animal cruelty and natural disasters. Kim also works with HSUS state directors to strengthen relationships between community animal shelters and animal advocates.

The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.

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