San Diego animal shelters affected by the coronavirus pandemic

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John Gibbins

San Diego Humane Society still offers adoptions virtually.

Ava Moslehi, Staff Writer

The coronavirus has managed to bring the whole world to a stop. With almost every store and event being shut down, how are animal shelters holding up during such a rough time?

In order to protect the staff and animals at these shelters, precautions have been taken to abide by the order to social distance. John Van Zantem, the Public relations director at the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, located in Encinitas, ensures that they are doing everything they can to follow social distancing guidelines when possible and are doing it successfully. Zantem mentions “Our staff is cut back to essential personnel only,” also stating “our volunteers have been cut back to volunteer mentors and others who have lots of experience.”

The San Diego Humane Society, another major organization in San Diego is also taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its staff, customers, and animals. All their shelters are still open daily, but the hours have been shortened, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A lot is being done within the shelters to ensure safety as well. They have placed handwashing stations outside for anyone entering, they have placed markers to follow the social distancing recommendations, staff members are given protective gear including gloves and facemasks, and staff that are able to work from home are now doing so. 

Nina Thompson, the news center manager at the San Diego Humane Society states, “Despite our change in service to the public, our exceptional care for the animals in our shelter continues. Animals are still getting the same attention as always. Our Humane Law Enforcement Officers are still serving the community, responding to priority calls.”

The adoption process at many animal shelters has also been hit hard. Due to the pandemic, many shelters around San Diego have temporarily suspended their adoption process to keep the public, their staff, and animals safe.

The Rancho Coastal Humane Society is one shelter that has temporarily suspended its pet adoption program. Although now is the perfect time to adopt, the conditions don’t allow. As to why Zante mentions “because of the number of pets here and the physical size of the shelter, social distancing would not be possible if we had several families arrive at the same time. We’ve discussed the possibility of ‘Adoption by appointment,’ but it hasn’t begun at this time.”

Other shelters, such as the San Diego Humane Society, have not stopped their adoption process, but have made significant changes. They have gone almost completely virtual, requiring people looking to adopt to call to make an appointment and hold a consultation over the phone with an adoption counselor who will discuss the animals and help them find the right fit for their home. When the pet is adopted, the driver is required to drive up to pick up their pet and the staff will help them load everything into their car. 

With all this said, more and more people are looking for pets to adopt and foster during this time. Thompson mentions, “At the start of the pandemic, we saw a drop in adoptions. However, the numbers seem to be turning and more people are welcoming their animals into their homes again,” while Zante says, “Interest in adopting doesn’t seem to be on the decline. If anything, it’s on the rise. Families who have been considering pet adoption now have the time to stay at home and bond with their new pets.”

If you or anyone you know is looking to adopt or foster, you can call the San Diego Humane Society at 619-299-7012 to make an appointment to adopt or visit <https://www.sdhumane.org/support-us/volunteer/foster/> to apply to foster.