Humans aren’t the only ones affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting this morning, the Ardmore Animal Shelter will be suspending all adoptions through at least April 6 to reduce foot traffic inside the building and help prevent the spread of the virus.
Supervisor Amanda Dinwiddie said about 80 dogs and two cats remained in the shelter when they closed the doors last night. The shelter offered a special $19 adoption fee for dogs on Thursday, and 13 dogs and two cats found new homes over the course of the day.
Dinwiddie said even though adoptions are currently suspended, operations inside the facility will continue as more or less normal.
“The staff will still be at the shelter every day to care for all the animals,” Dinwiddie said. “They’ll still be fed and cleaned up, and we’ll continue letting them out to play and exercise in the yard.”
Because animal control will continue to bring in stray animals, Dinwiddie urged the public to refrain from relinquishing animals unless it is an absolute emergency.
“We need to keep as many of the kennels open as we can because animal control will still be bringing in strays,” Dinwiddie said. “Since we’re not going to be doing any adoptions to empty out the kennels those numbers will just continue to rise.”
She said once the kennels are full they will have to begin putting down more animals, so they want to limit intakes to an absolute minimum.
She pointed out other shelters across the country are experiencing the same issue. While some of these shelters are attempting to implement emergency foster programs to give more animals a temporary home, Ardmore’s shelter decided against the option.
“We talked about fostering during our board meeting, but we can barely find foster homes as it is,” Dinwiddie said. “If we can’t find foster homes for a tiny litter of kittens that would require very little work at all, we certainly won’t be able to find one for a 90 pound dog who will be living with you for the next two or three weeks.”
Another issue with temporary foster homes would be finding the right fit. Dinwiddie said adopted animals sometimes end up back at the shelter in two weeks or less because things don’t work out with the family’s children or other pets. This situation would be even worse in the case of a foster.
“If they kept getting shuttled back and forth, it would just end up being more stressful to the dogs,” Dinwiddie said. “They can at least be comfortable here for the time being because they already know this place, and they’ll still be cared for.”
Dinwiddie said anyone looking for a lost pet brought in by animal control can contact the shelter by calling (580) 223-7070 on weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon or via Facebook Messenger. Staff can then make arrangements for owners to pick up their pet.
The Ardmore Animal Shelter will be posting any situational updates or date changes to facebook.com/ardmoreanimalcare. Dinwiddie said she hopes things will get back to normal soon.
“We hate having to do this,” Dinwiddie said. “The best part of our job is getting to see the animals go out the door with a new family.”