The pandemic has posed a unique challenge for animal shelters statewide.
That includes Sonoma County Animal Services in Santa Rosa, which has been closed to the public since March.
Anne Figoni, the animal health technician at the shelter, says she and her colleagues have stayed busy, nonetheless.
"Kittens really shouldn’t grow up in a shelter," Figoni said in a recent interview, while she held a feral kitten recently dropped off at the shelter.
For 16 years, Figoni has helped care for pets at the shelter, which prides itself on not euthanizing older animals to make room for new ones. The pandemic has required Sonoma County Animal Services to get creative in finding forever homes for its longer-term residents.
"We are transferring out long-term dogs that have been here, most to other rescue groups and organizations that are able to adopt out," Figoni said.
When it comes to cats, they've found help at a farm and feed store. For 13 years, Western Farm Center has pitched in to help the shelter with cat and kitten adoptions. A volunteer brings adoption-ready cats to the store, on 7th Street just west of Highway 101 in Santa Rosa.
There, customers can meet and greet the kitties, and even take one home. Because it's an "essential business," Western Farm Center has kept its doors open throughout the pandemic. It's a perfect setup, and a lifeline for the shelter.
"Even if we have adoptions here, we always have too many cats and kittens," Figoni said. "It's very helpful."
The shelter also uses this Mobile Adoption Center, or MAC, funded by donors:
You can adopt a cat from Sonoma County Animal Services through Western Farm Center by visiting the store Monday through Saturday during regular business hours.
If you can't make it to Santa Rosa, please visit our Clear the Shelters website to learn more about adopting during the pandemic, or make a cash donation to support a shelter near you.
NBC Bay Area gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Debbie Christian and the Sonoma County Animal Services team in producing this story.