With all the closures and the order to stay home people are living a new normal and if there is a silver lining – even a very thin silver lining – for the Astro Foundation during these times, it is that there are several people stepping up to foster homeless pets in need. Although the Oakdale Animal Shelter is closed and adoption events for all rescue groups have been canceled until further notice, the pets in the area still need help and care.
“Usually it is a little more difficult to find people to foster baby pets because everybody is busy,” stated Astro President Jaydeen Vicente. “Right now I have an abundance of people willing to foster which is great.”
The Astro Foundation serves primarily Oakdale and Riverbank but they help pets from all over. They will continue to do one on one adoptions or an appointment-only type model of adoptions with the public taking every precaution during this crisis. They host a number of adoption events at the Petco in Riverbank for dogs and cats but under the current order this has been put on hold.
All of Astro’s marketing is being handled through their social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and astrofoundation.org where people can see what adoptable pets are available, how to donate, and more information. All the pets are with foster families as they do not have a facility. They have future plans to build a no kill shelter in Oakdale. They have purchased a piece of property but have put the plans on hold. The Astro Thrift and Gift Shop is also closed due to the COVID-19 situation.
“Astro thrift and gift shop brings in a lot of funding that pays for everything we do like the veterinarian, spay/neuter, microchip, medications, vaccines all that and that is closed for now,” stated Vicente. “Our biggest fundraiser of the year is St. Catty’s Day. It was supposed to take place on March 14 and the governor put out the notice about the large gatherings and social distancing are not allowed. We had to cancel that at the last minute. It is our biggest fundraiser of the year. It is just a difficult time.”
They continue to receive small contributions from their recurring donors club called Paw it Forward. People can sign up on their website to donate as little as $20 a month.
“It helps us out tremendously over time,” Vicente added. “The recurring donors right now are a huge gift to us; that is the only thing keeping us paying the bills right now.”
She said that the timing could not be worse as this is kitten season. This is the time of the year where there will be an influx of kittens. She added that at the moment kittens are trickling in but the flood gates are going to open soon.
With the cost of pet food, supplies, veterinary care, and special needs they are relying on their recurring donors and other donations.
“There is always something with pets,” expressed Vicente. “They don’t stop breathing or stop needing rescue just because there is a pandemic. We are doing our best to maintain the guidance that our local and federal government has put out there. And yet still try to rescue and place as many animals as we can given the limitations. It is a challenge for sure.”
Some of the items needed are supplies for baby pets, KMR kitten formula, Miracle Nipple for Pets, and puppy pads. The donations can be dropped off at Petco in Riverbank or shipped directly to Astro Foundation if purchased through the Amazon Wish List which can also be found on their Facebook page and website.
They are offering free adult cats to seniors 60 and older that are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Someone will deliver the cat that could be someone’s companion as we are sheltering in place.
The Oakdale Animal Shelter is closed as staff stated recently until possibly April 30. They will not be receiving or picking up any homeless pets and are not doing any adoptions.
The Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance (OSPA) is a nonprofit group that assists pets in the Oakdale Riverbank communities as well and has held voucher events that have currently been canceled. However, they will continue to promote adoptions and help with adoption fees.
The Petco Foundation recently issued Astro an $11,000 grant which is helping the organization through these trying times. Petco in the Crossroads shopping center will remain open as they are deemed an essential business.
“Petco is really good,” Vicente said. “I am thankful for the Petco Foundation grant. When you go to the counter at Petco you check out they ask you if you want to donate a dollar or five dollars to help local pets. That really comes back to help. Sometimes I think people wonder if they really give back to their local pets. And yes they really do give back to their local rescue groups that do adoption events there. It is a huge help.”
The Astro foundation was established in 2012 and received their non-profit designation in 2014 and have been rescuing pets in the area ever since.
“It is my passion, it is where my heart is and I want to save as many as I can. I think that is true for most of our volunteers that is why they do it,” said Vicente. “So if a pet could provide companionship and help someone get through the loneliness and isolation of this, especially seniors, I just think there is a lot of benefit and value in that. Support each other. Band together … we are all human and we are all subject to the same woes, illness and heartache like everybody else. So how about we just support each other and prop each other up and get through this thing.”