Piedmont animal shelters deal with COVID-19 crisis

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BURLINGTON, N.C. — The coronavirus pandemic is changing almost every aspect of our lives.

We can’t gather in large groups. Many people are working from home. Plus a number of agencies are telling volunteers to stay home. At Burlington Animal Services, that meant they had to come up with a plan to care for 300 animals.

“By the end of the month, 95% of the 300 animals in our program were in foster homes in our community,” said Burlington Animal Services Director Jessica Arias. “That’s pretty significant to get all of those animals out into foster homes so quickly.”

With most of the animals now out of the center, foster “moms” and “dads” are using technology to help with pet adoptions.

“You know, in a matter of weeks, everyone is using these platforms to communicate with each other. So everyone has adapted to it seamlessly,” Arias said.

She pointed out that in March, over 230 animals were able to get a new leash on life.

“A lot of people are now working from home, They have the time to take a pet in,” Arias said. “Especially people that are by themselves. What better company than a foster pet in your home?”

The new way of doing things is also putting surgeries like spay and neutering on hold.

“The reason the nonessential procedures are limited is so PPE, or personal protective equipment, can be conserved and utilized by health care workers,” Arias said. “There is a shortage and need in the medical community.”

Burlington Animal Services, along with other Piedmont shelters, are only accepting emergency cases like sick and injured animals into their centers.

So when a neighbor finds a lost pet, they are not dropping them off at the facility. Instead, Arias said neighbors are now helping neighbors.

“They are going things like putting notifications on social media or flyers in the neighborhood. Studies have shown that pets travel no more than 1,000 feet from home,” Arias said.

Burlington Animal Services and the Guilford County Animal Shelter have waived their adoption fees.

If you are looking to adopt a cat or dog, call your nearest center to schedule either a one-on-one appointment or a virtual appointment.

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North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline: 1-866-462-3821

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