As the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia prepared to close to the public and adopt out or foster its remaining dogs and cats, a box of 10 puppies arrived at its front door.
Normally, Julie Edwards , executive director of the humane society, would be excited to meet a new litter of puppies destined for new adoptive homes, but this week she felt nothing but concern.
In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia will be closed to the public starting next week until at least April 6. No new adoptions will go through during the dead period, and with nearly 50 prospective pets brought in in the last week alone, Edwards is beginning to worry about the shelter reaching capacity.
To combat this, the shelter is making one last push to find homes for orphaned pets with a “clear the shelter” event this Thursday through Saturday.
“We’re going to try to adopt as many animals as possible in homes, because we don’t want them to sit in the shelter for a week or two or three or however long this is going to take for their mental and physical wellbeing,” said Humane Society of Northeast Georgia executive director Julie Edwards.
Adoptions and visitations must be set up by appointment to keep foot traffic at a minimum, but for three days, all the cats and dogs the shelter houses will be spread out in kennels in its parking lot, waiting for prospective new pet owners to come pick them up.
The event comes as a response to a disturbing trend Edwards has noticed in animals shelters around the state.
“People are giving up their animals because either they’re afraid they’re going to get COVID or have COVID and they can’t take care of them while a family member has COVID or they’re afraid the animal will give them COVID,” she said.
While the CDC’s official stance on the matter states that “we do not have evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19,” the recent intake numbers at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia have started to become overwhelming.
In the last week, the shelter has taken in 42 new animals — 10 brand new puppies on Tuesday alone. The center is already near capacity, and with a week of no adoptions on the horizon, Edwards is concerned about taking care of all the orphaned pets.
Some will be designated for foster homes.
“Our foster coordinator has already been compiling an emergency foster placement list for people that would be willing to take an animal for a couple weeks just to get them out of the shelter for their mental and physical wellbeing,” Edwards said. “Anything we don’t adopt out by Saturday night will have the potential to go into foster. We hope to get all those animals picked up and placed in foster homes Sunday and Monday.”
The rest will remain in the shelter and be taken care of by the essential staff members that will still be coming into work through the closure.
Dog walkers, kennel cleaners and medical team members will continue showing up to make sure the animals stay physically healthy. But the mental health of so many prospective pets being cooped up for what could end up being an extended closure has Edwards much more concerned.
In a time of great stress and uncertainty, a new furry companion could be exactly what many families and individuals need to make it through. This weekend is the perfect time to make that addition.
“If you’re home and being quarantined or isolated, what better time to bring a new puppy or furry family member into your home?” Edwards said. “You have plenty of time to train them, give them love, get them used to your family. It’s a win, win, win.”