A German shepherd suffering from chemical burns doesn’t know that much of the country has been shuttered for a year.
A cat in labor needing an emergency C-section because of a blockage doesn’t recognize that rescue societies aren’t receiving their traditional financial support.
COVID-19 has changed many things. But the call to care for animals and help them, even when their cases are complex and costly, remains.
“The need has not wavered,” said Elizabeth Jefferis, executive director of Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton.
She said the society has cared for 845 cats and dogs since March 2020, when COVID restrictions were announced.
“In the past year we’ve taken in, cared for and placed as many dogs and cats as we did before the pandemic,” Jefferis said. “The work continues.”
Some of these animals had special circumstances, which adds to the cost of their care.
Those needs previously were funded by events such as the annual Fur Ball, a glittering gala that was last held in person in 2019. That ball drew 400-500 people and raised $75,000.
“That was a big deal for us,’’ Jefferis said.
Last year, with the COVID pandemic starting, the ball was canceled.
This year, with the pandemic still hitting the nation, the in-person event remains on hold.
So, Fur Ball organizers coughed up a new plan.
Donors can swap evening wear for pajamas at a virtual event, Spirits & Snuggles, March 26-28.
The no-cost, weekend-long event allows people to log in for an online auction.
Participants will have the chance to bid on auction items and to “Fund a Need,” which targets a specific service, such as $50 to vaccinate an animal or $100 for spaying.
People also will be asked to “donate back their ticket.” They will be asked to spend what they would have doled out for all the little things leading up to an in-person gala — such as the cost of a babysitter, hair salon trip and perhaps new clothes or shoes — and instead give that money to the society.
On March 20, a preview of the event began, offering the public a chance to view the auction offerings, which include trips, wine and pet supplies, among other items.
The preview, as well as the actual fundraiser, can be viewed at baypathhumane.org.
Jefferis knows that the organization likely won’t raise as much money as in previous years, due to the economic challenges so many people are facing. “But we have to try,” she said.
This year, many of the animals taken in by the society have “medical and behavioral needs that are pretty significant,” she said.
These medical needs can be handled through the medical partners that assist the society, but, “We need the resources,” she said.
Support from events such as Spirits & Snuggles “allows us to accepts cases like this” and “continue to say yes to these tough situations,” Jefferis added.
Shortly before the pandemic hit, the Hopkinton Select Board unanimously agreed to lease town land at 66 Fruit St. to the society. Baypath plans to build a new facility there that is nearly four times larger than its current structure at 500 Legacy Farms North.
The pandemic has slowed this process, Jefferis said.
“However, we are still working with the town on that and hope to have more updates soon,” she said.
For now, the organization’s immediate focus is on Spirits & Snuggles.
“We would be extremely grateful if you could help,” she said of the community.
And like everyone else in the country, Jefferis is hopeful for better days ahead, including a gala that will actually feature dancing and face-to-face interaction.
“We can’t wait to be back next year,” she said.