Barstow Humane Society faces wave of homeless animals
Open the doors to the Barstow Humane Society and a furry friend of some variation will be the first to greet you from a personal cage. Tuesday morning it was a black rabbit.
To the left, a white barrier stretches a few feet in front of you and cuts sideways across the room, separating customers from an eclectic service area and its hardworking employees.
âWe’ll be with you in a second,â one might say. It will not be in a tone of contempt, but of the need to do a million things at once.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda Glaudel and her small team at the High Desert Refuge have been facing yet another crisis.
Stray animals increasingly roam the streets of Barstow. Pets are always abandoned by their owners, or they need a new home after their owners die. The California Highway Patrol and San Bernardino County animal control authorities often bring back fallen animals, dead or alive.
All of the resulting work rests on the shoulders of the Barstow Humane Society, which welcomes around 3,500 live animals a year and cremates many more that have died, according to Glaudel.
And as the summer of 2021 kicks off, unprecedented pressure is being put on this short-lived animal shelter.
âWe are totally excited. It’s worse than it has ever been before COVID, âGlaudel told the Daily Press from his side of the White Barrier. âI think people are going back to work. People are more and more busy, so they can’t hold on to their dogs and cats.
Glaudel acknowledged that part of the rise may come from people who had “pandemic pets” when quarantines were the norm, but now have changes of mind as the economy reopens.
âOf course, what’s not helping is kitten season right now, and kitten season is at its peak. This is the worst it has been in eight years, âGlaudel said, referring to the time that has passed since she took over as chairman of the Barstow Humane Society. “We just welcome kittens non-stop all the time.”
Multiple factors are likely to increase the volume of animals in need of a home, but separately, the shelter is having a harder time than ever finding new employees to help it in its efforts.
The Barstow Humane Society is a non-profit organization. Besides donations and gifts, he has contracts for his work with the town of Barstow and the County of San Bernardino. According to Glaudel, that is no longer enough for him to offer an attractive starting salary, as evidenced by the current shortage of new hires and even potential hires.
Glaudel said the shelter has had to lay off some workers amid the economic turmoil of the coronavirus, but can now afford to rehire them.
She said these workers did not want to return because they were earning more than the offered wage by collecting unemployment benefits, which have been bolstered by the federal and California governments since business closure orders pushed up the the number of unemployed Americans booms.
The administration of California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday it would stop paying unemployment benefits to people who are not actively looking for work. Still, “you have to have the funding to hire, and there is a budget you have to follow,” Glaudel said.
âWe’re so far here too. I think a lot of people don’t want to drive here too which I fully understand because it’s a lot for gas here. “
The Humane Society building is tucked away a few hundred yards from Walmart, closer to the east end of Main Street, where it runs parallel to Interstate 40. But separated from an inconvenient road, she said the declining conditions at Barstow are another factor.
âWe’re not like a Victorville or an Apple Valley. Lots of people are there, but coming here a lot of people don’t think about coming here, âGlaudel said. “Our shelter is really, really old, and we try to accommodate everyone as much as possible.”
Glaudel said before the pandemic she could find five or six qualified candidates for a single vacant position and struggle to decide which one to choose. Now, however, only a few applicants will respond even when asked to show up for an interview, and then they might not show up.
“You also have to make sure you hire qualified people, who aren’t afraid of animals, who know that this is – it’s a dirty job,” Glaudel said. âYou clean all the time. And take care of them, make sure you take care that they don’t get sick, stuff like that.
During the interview in the shelter, one of Glaudel’s colleagues rushed behind the barrier and headed outside.
“Excuse me, I have two stray dogs here that I have to go get,” he said with a shrug and a smirk to a Daily Press reporter. âThey are chihuahuas. Two chihuahuas.
Glaudel, meanwhile, described a tumultuous workload, but added that her team are used to the pace.
âPersonally, I work at least 10 hours a day, six days a week. And when I’m home – I come in at 8 am – I start getting messages at 7 am because that’s when my employees start, âshe said. âI haven’t taken a vacation since 2013 or 2014. It doesn’t bother me, because you have to take care of the animals and that’s okay.
The drive to find a home for as many solitary animals as possible is what keeps the Barstow Humane Society alive.
âThat’s our big thing: we don’t want to let go of them unless we absolutely have to. We want to strive to adopt everyone.
Glaudel said the humanitarian society can still use donations, which can be mailed or delivered in person to the Barstow Humane Society, 2480 E. Main St., Barstow, CA 92311. Donations can also be sent via cell phones with a card attached to 760-252-4800, or emailed to [email protected]
She said the shelter is still in need of dry dog ââand cat food and that there is a “huge need” for wet cat food during this kitten season. The Barstow Humane Society has an Amazon Wish List that includes other necessities, she added.
Charlie McGee covers the town of Barstow and its surrounding communities for the Daily Press. He is also a member of the Report for America corps of the GroundTruth Project, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the United States and around the world. McGee can be reached at 760-955-5341 or at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.