Essential businesses continue to navigate through troubled waters caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And one nonprofit whose doors have been closed to the public for the past month plans a limited reopening starting today, May 1.
The Humane Society of Central Arizona will be open for adoptions, by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve been hunkering down, coming up with policies and procedures to open up here,” said D.J. Palmer, co-executive director with Annie Benedict.
“We’re labeling this as a stage one opening. We’re excited to get some animals moving to good homes.”
Palmer said they have approximately 80 dogs and cats in their facility, at 605 W. Wilson Court, in Payson. That number is concerning.
“We start creeping up to about 100 this time of year with kitten time and anything more than 120 we’re pretty much at max capacity,” he said.
He said they see several waves of kitten births each year.
“In Arizona, it’s kind of like three waves,” he said. “About now kittens are being birthed, then again about a month from now and then in the fall. That inundates us with a ton of cats.”
You can view photos and brief descriptions of all the dogs and cats up for adoption at humanesocietycentralaz.org.
Anyone interested in adopting a dog or cat can call 928-474-5590 and talk to a representative or leave a voice message to set up an appointment and someone will call you back within 24 hours. You may also email email@example.com.
When arriving for an appointment, call from the parking lot when you arrive. You must wear some kind of face covering. A staff member wearing a face covering and gloves will bring the dog out to you.
The procedure is different for those interested in adopting a cat.
“We obviously can’t bring them outside,” Palmer said. “So, one adult and one child wearing facemasks are allowed to come inside the building to meet the cat.”
He said they’ll try these procedures out as they monitor recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Doug Ducey.
“We’re going to stay current with what the CDC and state are saying as far as social distancing,” Palmer said. “The plan will evolve as the (conditions) evolve.”
They’ve halted spay and neutering services and aren’t sure when they’ll resume.
They’ve been able to keep all 16 staff members, thanks in part to generous donations from the community.
“We want to thank our community for keeping us afloat during this time,” Palmer said. “It has taken a toll on us financially, but I think we’re one of the few nonprofits to keep all our staff.”
Their aluminum can recycling program has helped them make ends meet over the years. Community members can drop off cans with the letters CRV imprinted on the top at containers located across the street from the Humane Society and at the dog park, Payson Golf Club, Star Valley Town Hall, Green Valley Park and Ponderosa Market in Pine. They prefer you bring them to the Humane Society location.
“We had one at the (Payson) Town Hall and we’d pick them up twice a week but they were filling up so fast that cops were having to pick them up,” Palmer said. “So they asked us to remove the containers. Ideally, we’d like people to drop them off at our location and our staff can take care of them as they get time.”
Staff load the cans into a truck and take them to a recycling facility in Mesa, where they get 60 cents a pound for uncrushed cans and about 40 cents for crushed.
“We average about 1,000 pounds in one load,” Palmer said. “So that generates $400-$500 a week. When you figure in the staff time to sort through them and get rid of all the cat food and soup cans and the gas and wear and tear on the vehicle, we probably come out about $300 ahead. That’s close to $1,400 a year, which helps considerably.”
The public may also drop off empty ink cartridges through a slot in the door on the Berger Bin shed on the west side of the building. A volunteer sends them off to a company that pays them approximately $50-$100 a month.
Also beginning May 1, the public may bring in cats and dogs up for adoption to the Humane Society between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. seven days a week.
“We weren’t allowing the public to bring in strays,” Palmer said. “Gila County sheriff’s deputies and the Payson Police Department were the only ones we’d allow to bring them in.”
Palmer said this is just the first stage of the reopening.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to keep everyone safe under these crazy circumstances,” he said.