April 24, 2020
The shelter wrote on Facebook: “An incredible and joyful thing happened today… For the first time in the history of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, we have completely emptied one of our three dog kennels.“
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown protocols, many shelters across the country have seen surges in adoption rates since people now have more time to bond with pets. Also, every home needs a bit of cheer and joy right now, and what better to light up a place than an excited pet happy to be part of a new family?
There are three kennels at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, and now, only two of those still have animals. At least 96 dogs and some cats were adopted according to Elizabeth Harfmann, the community outreach manager for the shelter. Some of the animals were fully adopted and others found temporary foster homes. There were also a few that were taken in by neighboring rescue organizations.
“It’s definitely been a combined effort from the community. The animals went to foster homes, adopters and to our partner rescue organizations,” Harfmann told CNN. “We’ve also seen a decrease in incoming animals, so that has helped as well.”
How will the pandemic affect animal welfare?
While animal shelters are glad their charges are finally getting new families, there are a few notes of worry still in the mix. Millions of people are out of work and are currently dependent on government palliatives to survive, and thousands of others are sick from the virus or indirectly affected in some way. The animal welfare industry may witness an increase in surrender rates when people find out that they can no longer care for their animals.
For now, The Palm Beach Shelter is no longer accepting surrenders except in emergency cases, including cruelty and domestic violence. They’ve also reduced the frequency of picking up strays.
The shelter is still calling on animal lovers in the area and beyond to come pick up the other pets still left in the shelter. There are currently 79 more animals awaiting adoption.
“Let’s keep the momentum going and good vibes flowing! We still have dogs available for adoption or foster in our main kennel, along with a few adoptable cats, two adoptable horses, and Charlotte the adoptable pig,” they wrote on Facebook.
If you are interested in fostering or adopting, please visit The Palm Beach County website to view the available pets and submit an application online.
Pet owners and the COVID-19
While the shelter didn’t immediately outline the criteria for potential pet owners during this crisis, it’s important to understand how the COVID-19 disease affects animals. While the virus has been found to replicate very poorly in dogs and poultry animals, it replicates effectively in cats and ferrets, according to a study conducted this year by the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute (HVRI).  Also, more evidence came when a tiger in the Bronx zoo tested positive for the virus, and six other big cats in her living space have presented with symptoms of the disease.  It was reportedly transmitted to the cats by an asymptomatic zoo worker.
The CDC recommends that persons who are sick from the virus do not come in contact with pets, especially cats.  While many zoonotic strains of coronaviruses can be transferred from animals to humans, there is still no evidence that companion animals can spread the COVID-19. However, it’s advised that pet owners take extra caution.
Household animals should not be allowed to interact with people from outside the house, and when a family isolates from a sick person, pets should be included too. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching your companion animals.