DETROIT – As many families struggle financially due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the livelihood of pets are being affected throughout Metro Detroit.
Kristina Rinaldi, Executive Director of Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR), says more pet owners are calling and asking for help than usual.
“I am seeing the same patterns that we were seeing in 2010,” Rinaldi said. “In 2010, we were being called for some of the worst cases.”
DDR was formed during the housing crisis, rescuing dogs off the street as people became unable to care for and keep their pets.
Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in Detroit, DDR is again receiving phone calls from dog owners in distress.
“People are calling me, saying ‘I need to surrender my dog.’ ‘Oh, why is that?’ ‘I can’t afford to feed my dog. My unemployment hasn’t come, I’m not getting the stimulus, I haven’t seen my stimulus and I can’t feed my dog,’” Rinaldi said.
DDR had to shut down its volunteer program when the pandemic reached Michigan, leaving the organization without 80 helping hands.
However, DDR is welcoming a limited number of volunteers to return this week to maintain their Help Line. Individuals struggling with their pet during this time can begin calling the Help Line this week.
The organization has continued to rescue dogs throughout the pandemic, but says donations and resources are beginning to dry up.
The organization is still facilitating adoptions amid the pandemic, conducting virtual adoptions and FaceTime home-checks to ensure social distancing.
“We are getting letters and notes saying, ‘this dog is saving me from quarantine,’” Rinaldi said. “We have people quarantining by themselves, and I think in the end we’ll see that heath care workers and dogs really helped us during the pandemic.”