BALTIMORE — "Only BARCS would move in a pandemic."
Perhaps not the most ideal time to make a major move but it's a move that Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) executive director Jennifer Brause has been looking forward to for quite some time.
"It’s much larger than what we were in before. We have a lot more space for the animals, we have rooms for the cats to spread out, we have room for the dogs to spread out, we have rooms for staff," she said.
Brause gave WMAR-2 News a tour of the new shelter, which is open to the public by appointment only for meet-and-greets and adoptions.
"So unfortunately at this point people still can’t walk through and view the animals that way. You have to view them online," she said.
The shelter itself is much bigger than their old location near Federal Hill and they have much more outdoor space including trails for volunteers and staff to walk the dogs.
They have space for "pocket pet" rescues like reptiles and rabbits, a training room for the dogs, bigger laundry and food prep space and more areas to hold pets.
For Brause, one of the best parts of the new shelter is the one the public rarely gets to see.
"One of the most exciting parts of the building is our surgical area, our medical space. There’s so much more room. Before we were really squeezed in a small space that we revamped for medical," Brause said.
"We need to raise more money to have more medical staff to be able to do what this building is capable of as far as the surgical space."
And fundraising in the midst of a pandemic has been a challenge for BARCS, like many non-profits. COVID-19 forced them to cancel many of their in-person fundraisers, leaving them to find alternative ways to raise about $1 million, said Brause.
One of their biggest and most popular fundraisers, BARCStoberfest, is going on now but virtually.
"We have a virtual beer garden this year instead of the actual beer garden, but we’re asking people to support the bars that are sponsoring us and BARSCtoberfest."
One small silver lining to the pandemic is it has allowed Brause and her staff to settle into their new digs a little bit easier, with most of the animals in foster care and appointment-only meet-and-greets.
But their life-saving work continues and nothing, not a global virus or major move, can stop them from rescuing animals and finding them forever homes.
"We are an essential business so we couldn’t close down we had to stay open. We had to keep changing our operations to fit our needs, to fit the community needs because animals were still coming in, animals are still homeless," said Brause.
BARCStoberfest runs throughout the month of October with different virtual activities planned. To find other ways to donate, click here.