Freeman-Fritts Animal Shelter is open for business, having been closed and then closed to the public due to COVID-19.
Jessica Ficker, a kennel technician, said the shelter closed to the public in May 2020.
“It was a tough call, but we thought it was what we had to do at the time,” Ficker said. “The staff still came to work and took care of the animals. We moved the few dogs we had to our boarding section.
The only difference was, Ficker said, that the shelter was not open to the public and they were not actively working on adopting pets.
“We only had three dogs at the time,” Ficker said.
A few months later, Ficker said the shelter began promoting online pet adoptions and allowing citizens inside the shelter by appointment only, which was the operational plan until April. January 12, when shelter operations resumed, with some exceptions such as mandatory masks and limited numbers. people in the shelter at the same time.
“We were asking people to fill out adoption applications and submit them online for specific pets that we were promoting on social media,” Ficker said. “And, we still had pretty good adoption rates at that time.”
However, Ficker said she was thrilled to be open again and hopes audiences will return.
“It was difficult for some people to adopt a pet they had never seen,” Ficker said. “Now they can come in and meet the dogs and cats and choose which one they seem to click with.”
Although Freeman-Fritts accepts pet relinquishments, they also partner with Kerr County Animal Services. As a county facility, KCAS is required to euthanize pets that have been in their shelter for too long. Freeman-Fritts staff rescue these animals and continue to try to find Forever Homes for the animals.
“We’re keeping an eye on Kerr County Animal Control and taking dogs and cats where we can,” Ficker said. “We are still understaffed, so we don’t have the number of dogs we normally can.”
Ficker said Freeman-Fritts averages 10 to 15 dogs at a time.
“Right now I have a little less because we’ve had a lot of adoptions lately,” Ficker said. “We have three adoptions this week, but we have a lot of cats.”
While most staff remained in place during the pandemic shutdown, Ficker said, more staff are needed.
“We have eight employees right now,” Ficker said.
Currently, Freeman-Fritts is advertising to hire a receptionist and a kennel technician.
As a non-profit organization, Freeman-Fritts operates on a tight budget and has historically relied on large numbers of volunteers to care for the animals at the shelter.
Volunteers like Jay Yarbrough are happy to be back at the shelter.
“I volunteer with the cats,” Yarbrough said. “I was gone for a while and just come back to volunteer.”
Yarbrough said one of the hardest parts of returning is getting to know the new cats at the shelter.
“I had relationships with many cats before and now I’m just trying to get to grips with the new ones,” Yarbrough said.
But, overall, he said he was just glad to be back.
“We have volunteers who come out to walk our dogs in the morning and afternoon,” Ficker said. “We have volunteers, like Jay, who help us with the cats and help feed them all. But, we need more volunteers now that we are open again.
Ficker said Freeman-Fritts is now accepting applications from anyone who wants to volunteer at the shelter.
“We call it an app, but it’s really just a form,” Ficker said.
Volunteers will go through an orientation process, she said.
“Our volunteers are so important,” Ficker said. “They help our dogs and cats get used to being around people. They brush them and take care of them. We really need our volunteers and we appreciate them.
Ficker said Freeman-Fritts’ mission is to provide spaying and neutering services, as well as educating the public on how to care for their pets.
While the shelter was closed, Ficker said the Freeman-Fritts Veterinary Clinic remained open throughout, providing curbside services to most clients.
“Our surgery center has remained open and we have been quite busy with spaying and spaying surgeries as many other clinics opted out of doing elective surgeries during the height of the pandemic,” Ficker said.
The Freeman-Fritts Animal Sanctuary is open Wednesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Freeman-Fritts Veterinary Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Services offered are animal rescues, veterinary services, pet boarding, neutering and neutering services, and pet adoptions.
To learn more about Freeman-Fritts Vet Clinic & Shelter, visit www.freemanfritts.com.