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Animal Shelters Need People To Foster/Adopt Pets During Coronavirus Pandemic

Social distancing is important for public health—but why not endure isolation with a furry friend?

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As the coronavirus pandemic has forced people across the country to self-quarantine, animal shelters that rely on volunteers are struggling — and they’re reaching out for help.

Shelters all over the country, including those in Austin, Chicago, and Houston have been asking people to consider becoming pet fosters, as animal shelters close to prevent the spread of the virus. Some programs are even offering to waive adoption fees to make adoption easier. To deal with fosters and adoptions while shelters are closed, many of the shelters are posting foster guidelines online and are doing adoption meet-ups by appointment only.

“Taking care of the homeless and abandoned animals of NYC cannot be done by working remotely,” the Animal Care Centers of NYC posted on Instagram, adding that they need help from the community to foster and adopt pets to reduce their onsite population. 

Even though some shelters have been closed, animals are still being cared for. Staff at shelters in LA and Burbank are still caring for and feeding animals, even though the locations have closed to the public because of the virus. Fewer animals, however, will be able to be adopted during this time.

Other shelters, like the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington D.C., anticipate that they will receive more surrendered pets as more people become financially incapable of caring for them.

“Generally, we are used to seeing increased intake when the economy declines, so that is a reality of what’s happening right now,” Humane Rescue Alliance spokesperson Sam Miller told the Washingtonian.

Even if people can’t foster or adopt, they can donate money and supplies to their local shelters. Best Friends Animal Society also suggests for people to check social media like Facebook and Nextdoor to help return lost pets or solve minor animal-related issues instead of alerting animal control. People can also consider helping self-quarantined neighbors by offering to walk their pets or take them to the vet.

Despite the high need for fosters, people should still be wary being around animals if they have tested positive for the virus. The World Health Organization’s stance that animals like dogs and cats can’t contract the virus was recently deleted from their myth-buster page, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have been infected with COVID-19 “limit contact with animals until more information is known.”