The Carroll County Animal Shelter (CCAS) successfully continued operations at full capacity despite facing COVID-19 challenges. After being closed to the public for a short period, the local shelter quickly implemented an appointment-only adoption and turn-in system to limit human contact as well as enhance its already rigorous cleaning routine.
According to Ashley Hulsey, Communications Director for the Carroll County Board of Directors, these safety protocols were an easy transition for the organization that cares for more than 250 animals.
“The shelter is cleaned daily as it has always been,” said Hulsey. “Due to the nature of caring for animals, cleanliness was a priority even before the coronavirus. Since the pandemic, extra measures have been put into place by utilizing cleaners that have been effective in killing the virus.”
To simplify the adoption process and be paired with a compatible pet, the shelter still encourages visitors to make an appointment. It asks that all visitors wear a mask and social distance as staff adheres to the recommended guidelines. But even with a safe adoption environment for interested pet owners, the shelter saw an increase in animal population totaling nearly 3,000 intakes at the close of 2020.
“We did have some adoptions at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Hulsey. “However, the number of animals we had increased, especially cats.”
Despite the increase in animals, the CCAS averaged an 85% “live release rate” through the toughest months of the pandemic. This percentage includes the number of pet adoptions, rescues, and returns to owners dating from January to October 2020. Much of the shelter’s success can be attributed to the support from the community.
“The shelter was fortunate to be able to work with partners all over the United States like PetSmart so that animals could be transferred to other locations that may be low on inventory of adoptable pets,” said Hulsey. “We also worked closely with the media to educate people about adopting and fostering animals.
“When we had a large number of cats, the community stepped up and started adopting them,” continued Hulsey. “The public has also been very generous to donate necessary items. We are very lucky to not be suffering from economic impacts of the virus at this time.”
In the face of many challenges, the shelter has been effective in upholding its mission to protect and care for homeless animals in Carroll County. However, a pet’s adoption relies on more than simply keeping it healthy. The shelter values the help of volunteers and fosters who help socialize fretful animals before they find their forever home.
“We are also still utilizing volunteers at the shelter, and they are very much appreciated,” said Hulsey. “We encourage fosters and are always looking for good homes to help.”