We all want to keep ourselves and others safe from the COVID-19 outbreak. During these unprecedented times, it’s important for all those who work and spend time in close proximity with other people to wear masks. However, for places like animal shelters, purchasing masks for staff members and volunteers cuts into the limited budget that these shelters have to care for their beloved animals.

That’s why GreaterGood is donating thousands of masks to animal shelters as part of our Mask a Million Challenge. Our goal has been to donate at least one million masks to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve met that goal already, but we’re not stopping there! We’ll continue to donate masks to medical professionals, elder care workers, food service workers, and, of course, the staff and volunteers who work at animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries for as long as they’re needed.

Left: Pensacola Humane Society
Right: Rescue Heroes in
their Super Suits (Photo credit: The Cat House on the Kings)

“Paws4thought Animal Rescue has been able to conduct meet and greets to help our rescues find fosters and furever homes while social distancing and wearing masks provided by GreaterGood.org,” says Judy Clayton. “Masks are available for our volunteer staff, as well as potential fosters and adopters when needed. For Paws4thought, adoptions and foster opportunities have spiked and more than 400 have been rescued and placed since the beginning of the pandemic.”

On top of allowing shelters to spend more of their money on care for the animals, the masks also allow dogs and cats safely find foster families and new forever homes. The donations are helping keep shelters open to the public so that new potential adopters can meet their new family members.

Left: Paws4Thought Animal Rescue cofounder Negar Mirgoli meets with new foster family as they are introduced to their rescue,
Angelica. Angelica left with her new family on a foster to adopt.
Right: Volunteer Jamie Dyer assists our vet tech while vaccinating puppies at their foster home.

“The masks were distributed primarily to our hospital and foster department, which focuses on our most vulnerable population—neonates and medical cases,” says Joel McLellan of the Animal Defense League of Texas. “It is crucial that these tiny pets are able to go to foster homes as quickly as possible. The shelter is a loud, stressful place for them and the risk of becoming ill is significantly higher if they stay on campus compared to when they are able to grow in a loving home. With the masks in place and following social distancing recommendations, we were able to still achieve strong communication with our fosters and send off these babies with all the instruction that a new, or even experienced, foster could need.”

Joel goes on to say that the medical personnel at the Animal Defense League of Texas often have to work in close quarters to properly assess and treat their animals, about 60 percent of which require more than routine medical care. They go through a lot of masks this way.

Photo Credit: Jamie Gibson, Animal Defense League of Texas
Left: Veterinary technician Tylene and patient Franky
Right: Foster coordinator Ruben Torres giving a kitten some snuggles before they head to foster

“The masks provided through this grant allowed us to put funds we would have had to use towards PPE directly to the care of pets that need us the most,” he says.

According to Gary Poon of the Houston Humane Society, more than 70 staff members stayed safe with the help of GreaterGood’s mask donations. “These masks also helped the shelter save more dogs,” he says, “as we were able to spend more resources on our animals and less on PPE. Thank you Greatergood!”

Left: Caren Garcia, Houston Humane Society Foster Coordinator, with a foster puppy headed to the adoption floor
Right: Staff at Sun Cities 4 Paws Rescue Inc. (Photo Credit: Karen Dickey, Director of Animal Services)

The mask donations are also helping with animal-related educational pursuits. At Sun Cities 4 Paws Rescue Inc., veterinary students have been attending hands-on classes twice a week to learn how to care for animals. Without the donations, the rescue would have to either purchase masks or shut down its classes, which are vital to ensure that students learn what they need to learn and that the animals are well cared for.

Left: Staff member Diane plays with cats at TNR A Better Chance
Right: Staff member Denise is assisted by Ragnar at Pope Memorial Humane Society

“Although we can find masks, the prices are usually extremely inflated or not readily available. Additionally, we would prefer to spend available funds on necessities and/or medical care for the cats and kittens at our facilities,” says Pat Kehoe of Sun Cities 4 Paws Rescue Inc. “Thanks to Greater Good, we are able to do that. And this batch of 1000 masks was received by us just over a week after we submitted our application!”

GreaterGood is honored to support the lifesaving efforts of staff members and volunteers at animal shelters across the country. Keep up the great work, everyone!

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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