TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Terre Haute Humane Society, like many establishments, has seen a lot of struggles and changes over the past year.

When the pandemic first hit, the society had to close its doors to the public. Since then, nearly a year later, they’ve slowly opened back up for adoptions with a new approach. That’s by appointment only, and interested adoptees have to choose an animal they may be interested in seeing, by the humane society’s online catalog.

While this is one of many new changes amid the pandemic, staff member, Stacy Wilkins, says the online tool has actually been a bit of an improvement.

“Sometimes when you walk through and you see a dog that is a little crazy and jumpy in the kennel, you’re going to turn the other way, so this way is kind of giving them a chance … you get them out of the kennel and they are a completely different animal,” Wilkins said.

She says, understandably, dogs who are in the kennels for a long period of time can become stressed and not put their best ‘paw’ forward.

We caught up with Dontaye Davis during his first meet and greet at the humane society. Dontaye and his girlfriend found ‘Minnie’ online and wanted to introduce her to their dog, Chapo. Dontaye says being home more during the pandemic, he saw a side of Chapo, he maybe didn’t before.

“He’s always just sad, he’s always laying there, sleeping most of the day too. maybe with somebody there, he’ll be happier when we’re not there, we work a lot.”

After this meet and greet, Chapo gets a new companion and ‘Minnie’ gets a new home.

The pandemic caused the society staff to have to split into two teams, dividing a normal staff by half or less.

“There were times when we were so short staffed, we had five people cleaning the entire building and taking care of the animals. It really took a toll on us, we were working two days on two days off,” Wilkins said.

Even though the staff has built back up in size with easing restrictions, Stacy says they still work 10 hour shifts or longer. Despite the stress, Stacy says the community supported the society’s needs from shelter donations to volunteers providing lunch for staff. Another great assistance was an increase in fosters.

“It’s a huge help. it gives them some socialization and some time with people rather than in a kennel.”

She says during the pandemic, the community showed the society that they weren’t forgotten.

“I’ve done a lot of different jobs and i’ve always said, this has probably the most mentally, physically and emotionally the hardest job I have ever done, but it is always absolutely the most rewarding,” Wilkins said.