Since the outbreak of COVID-19, North Carolina animal shelters have searched for solutions for its animal residents. In Pitt County, two shelters have found temporary solutions so both animals and staff can follow national guidelines.
Director of Pitt County Animal Services Michelle Whaley said the shelter has begun to reduce the amount of animals they are sheltering by putting out a call for foster homes. Within five days of their plea for foster homes, every animal that was eligible to leave from the shelter was put into foster care.
“We’ve definitely been following all of the national protocol and recommendations. Obviously, we can’t close down and have nobody come into the building. Especially if we have animals who are on bite quarantines and other circumstances. Somebody has to come into our building if a national quarantine is enacted,” Whaley said.
Officers for Pitt County Animal Services will continue to work in the field, but the department has pulled some of its more progressive programs in response to the pandemic according to Whaley. Trapping, neutering and release of stray cats has been halted, and the traps for them have been pulled up. Whaley said kitten season will be a bit overwhelming for the department this year as a consequence of stopping the program.
Shelter Director for the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina Shelby Jolly said its location is in the process of sending every animal they currently have into foster homes. Jolly also said the shelter will take applications for animals who are in foster care and will set up appointments for adoption after the pandemic is over.
Jolly said she hopes people will strongly consider fostering animals during this time. She said having animals in foster care gives them comfort and extra love to have happy moments during a stressful time.
“A lot of places are pushing adoption. If you were planning on adopting and are fully ready to adopt, I recommend it,” Jolly said.
Animal Welfare Coordinator at the Humane Society, Alexandria Johnson, said fostering is beneficial for the animals and those who provide homes for them during the current crisis. Johnson spoke on the growth animals go through in just a short time with a foster family.
“It really is crazy to see an animal go into a foster home for just a week and come back brighter, happier, and more well behaved. The extra dose of love for that animal is more we can give them when we are here every day,” Johnson said.
Johnson said if someone is having anxiety about current events or unsure about the future, having a foster dog or cat could put a smile on your face and give people something to get their minds off of the news.
“If you’ve been thinking about fostering, now is the time to do it. Especially if you live alone, you have someone to ride out quarantine with,” Johnson said.