Humans aren’t the only ones facing concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Animals, particularly those in shelters, are still in need of care.
“Thankfully, we knew this was coming. We had been watching shelters in other states as they started seeing COVID cases appear,” Tri-City Animal Services Manager Tammy Miller said. “Many shelters waited too late to try and start mass moving the animals. These shelters are now facing the challenges of keeping the animals sane during such long housing periods with such a limited number of visitors or potential adopters.”
The Tri-City Animal Shelter, based in Cedar Hill, also serves Duncanville and DeSoto. It houses 150 animals and currently has a population of 124, Miller said. Of those, she said 85 are in foster homes, with 17 in a foster-to-adopt program.
In Mansfield, the shelter has six dogs and four cats housed, with 13 dogs and two cats currently in foster homes, Assistant Chief of Police Gary Fowler said. At that shelter, like many, adoptions are still going on, albeit in a different way from before.
Adoptable pets can be viewed online
A person can view animals online. Then, if interested, they can schedule an appointment, come to the shelter, but not in the buildings. Staff will allow one person into the outside socialization yard to visit with the animal. The interaction takes place while maintaining social distancing requirements/staff member is wearing a mask.
If there is a connection, paperwork can be completed and email transactions can take place.
“Adoptions have slowed down, but that stands to reason as they should have. People need to stay at home,” Fowler said.
“We are thrilled we are still doing adoptions,” Miller said. “We will also provide delivery within our three cities. Often we can provide delivery beyond our three cities, but this is based on volunteer availability.”
“Also people who have lost a pet can also see what pets have been found by visiting our 24-hour found animal viewing on our website. Please remember descriptions can vary and pictures often do not really capture the look of our pets so if you see anything close please call the shelter.”
Most cities are still doing pickup of stray and lost animals. If possible, the animal will be returned to the owner, otherwise they are taken to the local shelter.
Miller also said that while the shelter is still fully functional, they are asking people who have surrendered an animal to reconsider through an online resource called rehome.com. She said the shelter will supply pet food, etc. to help them keep the pet at home.
“This helps keep the animals in a home environment since we do not have the normal foot traffic,” she said.
Midlothian utilizing social media
Midlothian Community Services Manager Debbie Ludke says the city is making great use of social media. With Facebook posts they’re able to reunite animals with their owners.
“Several times a day we post lost pet alerts and found pet alerts, and updates when animals are claimed or found, Ludke said. “People looking for a lost pet can go to Facebook and search City of Midlothian, Texas – animal control.”
The pandemic has also affected shelter services in most places. For example, Mansfield has suspended volunteer and intern programs. Tri-City is not able to offer as many surgery slots for its trap/neuter/return program.
“We fully intend to ramp this lifesaving program back up as soon as supplies are available,” Miller said, adding that they are looking at getting microchip scanners directly into neighborhoods.
“This will prevent pets having to wait until regular business hours to try and help them be reunited with their owners,” she said.
Donations have also been affected as the economy has tightened. Miller said she is thankful to have an organization such as Friends of the Tri-City Animal Shelter.
“Without our Friends we would just be another animal shelter, rather than the premiere animal care campus that we are,” she said. “Even if it is just a skipped frappuccino, that is enough to vaccinate a stray animal to help keep them and us healthy.”
Ludke said Target Distribution Center in Midlothian continues to provide food, cat litter and treats to the shelter. Donations of textiles, food and toys for the animals have been temporarily suspended to limit person to person contact.
Many shelters have wish lists
Miller said there are many ways to help, including putting animals in your will. And, to accommodate social distancing, some shelters, such as hers, have a wish list on Amazon that folks can order from for the animals.
Also, make sure preparations are made for your animal’s care should you become contaminated with COVID-19.
“Hopefully no one reading this will have to deal with it but in the event a caretaker/pet owner becomes ill, who will care for your pet? Do they know where everything is? Does your pet require medication? What vet do they contact in the event of an emergency?” Miller said.
Once the stay-at-home order is over, shelters will need their respective communities to help them get caught up. That means as many adopters as possible. The best way to prepare to help, Fowler said, is to simply follow protocol.
“Stay safe, stay home, and practice social distancing and abide by local, state, and federal declarations,” he said, reiterating, “Stay safe.”