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The Lookout | July 3, 2020

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Help homeless pets during pandemic

Help homeless pets during pandemic CAHS CAHS
  • On April 22, 2020

By Shauna Stocken
Editor in Chief 

During the current pandemic, many veterinarians, animal clinics and animal caregivers, deemed non-essential workers, have turned to the community for support. 

Lansing’s Capital Area Humane Society closed its doors to the public March 24 to adhere to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. According to the shelter’s CEO, Julia Willson, the shelter will reopen again with governmental clearance.  

“All of our animals were placed into foster care,” Willson said. “We have over 200 animals that are currently shelter residents that are out in the community in foster homes. 

“So, one of the first things we did was get all of the animals out of here knowing that we were going to be closed for a while. Animals don’t do well locked in a shelter for a long period of time.”

According to Willson, as the Capital Animal Humane Society continues to take in animals from different emergency situations, those animals will also be placed into foster homes. 

“We had probably 10 times the number of people volunteering to foster than we needed,” Willson said. “All of our foster families have been generous when the stay-at-home order got extended, no problem. They kept their animals and wanted to do more and more.

“I think our community has shown us again and again, and not just during this pandemic, how kind they are to animals, and how much they care about the homeless animals in their community.”

Willson said fostering animals is evidence in action, as foster families have given animals a safe and comfortable place to be until they find a forever home. 

Despite the increase in animal fosters, Christine Hanaburgh, a board member for the Lansing animal foster organization Animal Placement Bureau, said she worries about an increased workload and homeless animals in the coming months. 

“One thing I am especially concerned about is a severe increase in animal surrenders in the next many months, as people go back to work and also as people deal with financial stress,” Hanaburgh said. 

“I think that the flatten-the-curve paradigm is relevant to pet surrenders as well, meaning that the longer families can keep pets in their homes, the better chance there is to find placement in a shelter or rescue organization as we return to normal.” 

For people who are struggling to care for their pets due to financial strain and don’t want to surrender their animals, support is available. 

“I’ve seen many offers for assistance for pet owners,” Hanaburgh said. “Probably the primary resources are the country animal control (located in Mason) and the Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing. Food banks have been established to help pet owners with those things.” 

Currently, the Capital Area Humane Society, Ingham Country Animal Control and the Capital Area Humane Society Spay & Neuter Clinic are not performing adoptions, intakes or public spay and neuter surgeries. 

“We currently have a pet food bank that we offer to the community,” Willson said. “A lot of people are donating items for the food bank that will go back out into the community … items like pet food and litter and … laundry detergent.” 

People interested in donating items to the Capital Area Humane Society can view an Amazon Wish List online at or donate a monetary amount online. Willson asked that all physical donations be left at the front doors of the shelter to minimize interactions.

“We saw, especially at the beginning, a big upswing from people requesting assistance from our food bank,” Willson said. “We’re happy to provide assistance. We’ve gotten a big response from people donating to the pet food bank and an increased amount of people asking for assistance in getting pet food. So, it’s increased on both sides of that equation.”

Those in need of pet food assistance or supplies can call the Capital Area Humane Society at (517) 626-6060. The shelter is located at 7095 W. Grand River Ave. in Lansing. 

The Ingham County Animal Control and the Okemos Community Church food bank have also collaborated to help Lansing area residents obtain pet food during this challenging time.  

According to, food for one week (cat or dog) will be available free of charge to area residents on a weekly basis in Okemos. Delivery is by cart to the car and social distancing is mandatory. 

The schedule is as follows: Wednesdays,10 a.m. to noon at Okemos Community Church parking lot, located at 4734 Okemos Road; Saturdays, noon to 2 p.m. at Meridian Township Central Park Pavilion, off Okemos and Central Park roads.

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