COVID-19 being felt in donations, hours, adoptions at animal shelters

Mar 29, 2020, 4:25 AM
Schools and businesses aren’t the only ones grappling with restrictions from the coronavirus – ...
Schools and businesses aren’t the only ones grappling with restrictions from the coronavirus – animal shelters in the state have also been forced to cut hours and have lost some donations. (Photo by Hannah Carl/Humane Society of Southern Arizona)
(Photo by Hannah Carl/Humane Society of Southern Arizona)

PHOENIX – The spread of COVID-19 has “deeply affected” Arizona animal shelters, which are discontinuing some services, cutting hours and trying to juggle between taking animals in and adopting them out to stretch resources while protecting pets and people.

Humane Society of Southern Arizona CEO Steve Farley said shelters are essential services and that his will continue to operate with all-hands-on-deck “throughout the whole thing, no matter how long it lasts.”

“It doesn’t mean it’s easy,” he added.

Farley said his group faces the loss of more than a half-million dollars after the coronavirus forced it to postpone its largest fundraising event, while other donations have shrunk. Officials at the Arizona Humane Society are facing similar challenges, scrapping its signature fundraiser that they expect would have brought in $1.3 million, or 6% of its revenue.

Monthly donations have also faltered at the Phoenix-based shelter, which focuses on taking in homeless, sick and injured animals. That makes it a challenge to operate services like rescues, a trauma hospital and intensive care units, said Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for the organization.

“This is a very, very scary time because we rely on donations to keep operating,” Nelson said. “We are very concerned with what this could mean longterm for our pets and our people in our community.”

At the Arizona Animal Welfare League, a no-kill shelter with two locations in the Valley, officials stopped taking appointment adoptions Sunday, and will remain closed for at least another week.

Michael Morefield said that cutback gives the remaining staff time to focus on caring for animals in the shelter. It will still accept returns of animals previously adopted from its shelters, but that has become “a balancing act,” he said.

“We did receive a message from a family saying they have to return their dog that they adopted recently because they both lost their jobs and that is a concern,” said Morefield, the league’s marketing and communications director.

“It’s very unfortunate for the family, but ensuring that we also have all the resources available for any animals that do need to be returned during this time” is a priority, he said.

Not all shelters are cutting back on adoptions – some have seen a spike during the coronavirus shutdown.

HALO Animal Rescue in Phoenix has seen a 55% increase in dog adoptions compared to this week last year, “likely due to the community’s response to wanting to help with COVID-19,” said Heather Allen, the shelter’s president and CEO. At the same time, it has seen a 68% drop in cat adoptions, which Allen said might be due to a late “kitten season” this year.

But she said people should think about adopting animals during this time. Her shelter temporarily waived adoption fees in order to move as many pets into new homes, before taking an adoption hiatus for at least a week.

“This is to lessen the volume of staff needed in the building and public/social interaction,” Allen said in an email. “We are taking the recommendations by the state and federal officials very seriously in order to best protect our staff, volunteers and the public. To do this, we need to limit the volume of people and the duration of time spent interacting.

“This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” she added.

Shelters got some support last week when Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, and Rep. David Schweikert, R-Fountain Hills, called on Arizonans to, in Schweikert’s words, “put a critter in your life.” Schweikert, who was in contact with shelters in recent months while looking for a coonhound puppy, said some larger shelters in Maricopa County “don’t have people coming in the door to adopt right now” and could become overcrowded.

“As much for folks to think about if you want a little love on a dog or kitten at home, do that,” he said, “but also for those folks who have some history of doing fostering, you may be also needed.”

Morefield said many Valley shelters are still open for adoption and “they need your support.”

“The more animals they can place into homes, the better they can use the resources they have available to care for the animals they have during a difficult time,” he said.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is trying to limit its animal intake and encourage people to hold on to their animals for now. While it has suspended services like its spay and neuter clinic and moved to appointment-only adoptions, Farley said the shelter is not planning on stopping adoption services any time soon.

Staff and volunteers have adopted strict social distancing standards and have begun walking dogs on 6-foot leashes. Those interested in fostering or adopting can view all the shelter’s animals online, so they can “meet your new best friend” while social distancing, he said.

“We’re trying to adapt the way everybody is right now,” Farley said. “We know we will come out of this even stronger than before.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Coronavirus News

Carey Johnson and her son Fabian Swain are photographed wearing face masks in their Germantown, Md....
Associated Press

After a year, omicron still driving COVID surges and worries

A year after omicron began its assault on humanity, the ever-morphing coronavirus mutant drove COVID-19 case counts higher in many places just as Americans gathered for Thanksgiving.
11 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona man convicted for threatening principal over school COVID rules

A Tucson man who showed up with zip ties and threatened to arrest an elementary school principal was convicted of several offenses.
1 month ago
FILE - A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station in Jackson, Miss....
Associated Press

Panel votes to add COVID shots to recommended vaccinations

NEW YORK (AP) — COVID-19 shots should be added to the lists of recommended vaccinations for kids and adults, a panel of U.S. vaccine experts said Thursday. The panel’s unanimous decision has no immediate effect — COVID-19 shots already are recommended for virtually all Americans. Rather, it would put the shots on the annually updated, […]
2 months ago
This provided by Pfizer in October 2022 shows manufacturing of the company's COVID-19 bivalent vacc...
Associated Press

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave. Tweaked boosters rolled out for Americans 12 and older last month, doses modified to target today’s most common and contagious omicron relative. While there wasn’t a big rush, federal health officials […]
2 months ago
This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine dur...
Associated Press

CDC endorses updated COVID boosters, shots to begin soon

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed updated COIVD-19 boosters, opening the way for a fall vaccination campaign that could blunt a winter surge if enough Americans roll up their sleeves. The new boosters targeting today’s most common omicron strains should begin arriving in pharmacies and clinics within days. The decision by […]
3 months ago
(Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)...
Griselda Zetino

Vast majority of Arizona kids have had COVID-19, according to CDC

The vast majority of Arizona children have been infected with COVID-19, according to a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
COVID-19 being felt in donations, hours, adoptions at animal shelters