The rapid spread of COVID-19 has made an impact on the lives of people around the world. There are more potential victims that are sometimes overlooked in situations like this: in particular, pets. Situations like COVID-19, which has seen massive job loss around the country, could create a situation where more and more pets are left behind as owners can no longer afford them.
Luckily, Baldwin County has not seen an increase of abandoned or left behind pets, according to Baldwin County Animal Shelter Director Kim Peacock. All the same, the shelter is doing everything it can to protect against the current threat of the virus while also preparing for the future.
“Right now we are closed to the public to be able to keep my staff healthy so they can be here to take care of the animals,” Peacock said. “We are working hard with approved rescue groups with their 501(c)3 that have a pretty decent foster base. Most of these organizations have an application process for someone to become a foster, so they can screen out true fosters.”
Though there hasn’t been an increase in pet abandonments in the county so far, Peacock fears once the pandemic is clear and everyone returns to work we could see those numbers rise.
“I’m starting to see that with schools out and people at home, they’re looking for a pet companion; be it for their child to play with or because they’re home alone,” she said. “We’re afraid of what will happen when everyone goes back to life as normal. There could be a huge influx of pet returns or people looking to rehome their pets.”
By allowing rescue groups to screen their fosters, Peacock believes there’s a higher chance that the animals will find good temporary homes until they find their forever homes.
Although closed to the public, local shelters are still doing what they can to get their pets adopted to forever homes or secure with foster families. Peacock and one of her staff members recently made a trip to Florida to deliver 12 dogs to ADORE Pet Rescue, using gloves, masks, and every precaution they could to protect against COVID-19 while making sure the dogs were delivered safely.
The Baldwin County Humane Society is doing adoptions by appointment only, while the Haven has set up outside appointments for adoptions. Other county shelters, such as Daphne Animal Shelter, are also reaching out to local volunteer pet rescues to set shelter pets up for adoption.
“We are trying to get as many of these animals out for adoption or to foster homes as we can,” Peacock said. “We are considered a low-kill shelter, we only euthanize for major aggression or critical illness; I do not want to revert to euthanizing due to limited space, and I’m afraid we’ll have to do that if there’s a huge influx. So we’re working to get our shelter pets to the rescue organizations so they can be fostered and adopted.”
Within a week, the shelter has gotten over 20 dogs out to rescue groups. Even though people cannot go into the Baldwin County Animal Shelter to adopt a pet during the pandemic, Peacock urges everyone to get in contact with a local rescue group if they are looking to adopt or foster a pet.
In the meantime, the shelter employees are making the most of the situation and have already spayed or neutered 75% of the dogs in their care. They are working to alter all their dogs during the shutdown.
“The dogs that are here are housed in individual kennels, fed twice a day, have clean water, dog beds, fans, and even heated floors during the colder months,” Peacock said. “So if anyone is afraid the dogs aren’t getting attention while people can’t come in to adopt them, my staff is taking care of them, taking them out daily for walks, giving them playtime in the yard, and making sure these dogs are healthy and happy.”
To learn more about the Baldwin County Animal Shelter and their current initiative to connect with local rescue groups, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BCAnimalControl.
Or check out their webpage at https://www.baldwincountyal.gov/home.