Animal Welfare Organizations Seek Homes For Pets During Coronavirus Outbreak

Local animal shelters and rescues are also working to find pets homes during this time by letting people adopt in new ways, virtually or while sitting in their car.


Last updated on March 23 2020 at 5:43 p.m.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic can be felt by not just the human population, but also by pets.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been no reports of pets getting sick with COVID-19, there have been instances where cats and dogs are being abandoned in the affected areas of Wuhan, China. 

In the U.S., Best Friends Animal Society spokesperson Nichole Dandrea said, in a statement, that they are “consciously reducing staff to minimize coronavirus exposure and keep caregivers healthy, with a team working remotely as backup.”

“We are not yet seeing employees get sick or leaving because of family members who are sick, but we realize that’s a possibility and are preparing for the worst,” she said in the statement.

Best Friends is an animal welfare organization with more than 2,800 rescue and shelter partners around the country, including LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta. 

“The biggest fear is that they have more animals than they have the capacity to care for, whether it’s space or resources,” Dandrea said.

To curtail an increase in capacity at shelters, Best Friends is encouraging people to foster. In two days, she said 35 dogs and 15 cats have become foster pets out of Best Friends’ Atlanta Lifesaving Center.

“We just see a tremendous response from the community after this call out for fostering,” Dandrea said.  

Local animal shelters and rescues are also working to find pets homes while keeping workers and the community safe.

LifeLine Animal Project, which manages Fulton and DeKalb County Animal Services shelters, is offering drive-up pet adoptions by appointment, according to the organization’s statement.

LifeLine spokesperson Karen Hirsch said she thinks the promotion and drive-up options will help to curtail the 40 to 60 pets that the shelters receive daily. Last week, more than 750 animals were adopted or fostered, Hirsch said in a statement.

But the organization still needs to find homes for an additional 300 animals due to limited space within shelters.

“We are very moved by the Atlanta community’s outpouring of support,” LifeLine Founder and CEO Rebecca Guinn said in a March 23 press release. “We hope it continues as is it still critical to move as many shelter animals into loving homes as possible.”

For the rest of March, dog adoptions will be just $20, Hirsch said. The adoption includes the dog’s spay or neuter, microchip, and vaccines, according to the statement.

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue has canceled all events and is planning to do virtual pet adoptions and meet-and-greets, according to a statement sent by the nonprofit’s representative Jackie Spett. The organization is asking for people to foster animals and adopt animals.

All Atlanta Humane Society locations will be closed through March 31 due to social distancing measures, according to the organization’s website. Adoption for dogs and cats listed on their website will resume once locations open back up. Their veterinary center won’t be accepting new appointments either.

If you’re a pet owner who wants to have a bit of fun while social distancing, snap a photo of your furry friend and enter it into the humane society’s cutest self-quarantined contest. The first-place winner will take home a one-year Netflix subscription and currently sought-after goods, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

PAWS Atlanta is keeping its facility closed, including the Public Wellness Clinic, according to its website. Cat and dog adoptions and intake are also being halted. However, pets adopted from PAWS Atlanta can be returned.

Editor’s Note: Nichole Dandrea, Best Friends Animal Society spokesperson, followed up with clarifications about how the organization is responding to the coronavirus outbreak.