According to county health officer’s reports, there has been a sustained downward trend in COVID-19 admissions, isolations and quarantines. In light of the decline of COVID-19 cases, many organizations are slowly returning to adapted programs and operations they had before the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Southeast Kansas Humane Society (SEKHS), a nonprofit no-kill animal shelter, is allowing the return of volunteer dog walkers due to the declining cases of COVID-19. The shelter had suspended volunteer activities due to the pandemic since March of last year but are now excited to accept the return of dog walkers.
“It helps us out if people can come and walk our dogs, because that’s something that sometimes we don’t get the time to walk all of them that need to be walked so that actually is a benefit to us and to our animals,” said Billie Senimore, shelter manager.
In order to still abide by health and safety procedures, the volunteer procedure has been adapted.
Volunteers can sign up to walk dogs on for one-hour time slots between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on either Wednesdays, Saturdays, or Sundays. In order to walk dogs, volunteers must call the shelter at 620-232-1840 to sign up for a time slot. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, only two to three volunteers will be allowed per time slot, and volunteers will be required to wear facemasks while on the property.
According to Senimore, the return of volunteer dog walkers will provide great benefits for the dogs in the shelter.
“(It’ll be good) to get our dogs socialized,” Senimore said. “They’ve not seen any public since last March, so to get them out of their runs, get them some exercise and get them to see some different faces. They’re getting stressed out being back there in their runs every day, and they’re just seeing us every day.”
Before the pandemic, Devonne Morrissey, senior in communication, frequently volunteered as a dog walker at the SEKHS and is excited for the opportunity to begin volunteering again.
“I think it is a good idea,” Morrissey said. “Me and my roommates did it a lot and it hurt us when we couldn’t do that anymore (because of the pandemic) and had to find other things to do.”
Morrissey believes it is a good time for the shelter to accept dog walkers again, as it provides stress relief for college students in addition to providing help to the dogs.
“I know a lot of college students liked doing that to… help stresses with school and everything but also to help out the animals,” Morrissey said. “The animals for sure need to get out… they need some love from some humans and especially from us too it’s a connection thing, I think.”
Senimore said she believes the dogs will be excited to see the return of volunteers.
“…it’s exciting for them to see some new faces and get out and get some fresh air and go for walks,” Senimore said. “It’ll take a lot of stress off of them.”