Animal shelter still operating and matching new pets with families during public health emergency

Feeling lonely? Consider adopting a pet …. but remember it is a lifetime commitment.

The Northwest Animal Shelter (NWAS) is still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are still some dogs and cats at the shelter and they have been deemed an essential service.

“We are just taking precautions to ensure the safety of our employees and volunteers. We are trying to limit the number of animals coming in to those most in need, but in just over a week have taken in two dogs and four cats. We are still adopting animals out, but have amended our processes to ensure the safety of all involved – the animals, our people and the public,” said shelter manager Sara Tomlinson.

She added the number of applications for adoptions have remained steady so far during the pandemic.

“We have not noticed an increase or a decrease in the number of applications received. It is important that we continue to adopt out animals, so we have room for the more urgent cases of animals needing to come into the shelter,” she said.

However the number of applications received for fostering animals has increased according to the NWAS foster coordinator. The shelter has received the same number in the past 10 days as they have in the previous three months for dogs. “The ability of an animal to go into foster care, however, depends on several factors – such as the status of their vetting. We also try to match the temperament of the animal with the household. We are in constant need of foster homes,” added Tomlinson.

The shelter is taking extra precautions when trying to match a pet with a new family.

“First and foremost, we ask people not to come to the shelter if they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness, or have been travelling recently or exposed to anyone who has been travelling,” said Tomlinson. ”We are making an effort to limit the number of people coming to the shelter, so we can observe physical distancing. Only one family member can come inside to meet the cats, and generally we bring the dogs outside to meet potential adopters. We have also revised how we do home checks, to ensure the safety of our people and potential adopters and foster homes. Everyone entering the shelter must also wash their hands.”

She said when they are taking in an animal they are also asking questions about the household – especially if any illness or if any other risk factors are present. And volunteers are also observing physical distancing during transfer of the animal.

Tomlinson said if anyone is considering adding to their family, this is a great time to consider adopting a pet. “We have several lovely cats, kittens and dogs at the moment. We just caution that adopting is a lifetime commitment, and not something to be entered into lightly. Our ability to adopt animals out is critical to enabling us to bring at risk animals into the shelter. It is likely that if the COVID-19 crisis continues we will be overwhelmed with requests for help,” she said.

Animals available for adoption can be seen on the NWAS Facebook page, or their website www.nwas.ca Not every animal is advertised however, so Tomlinson suggests if you are considering adding to your family – fill out an application and tell them what you are looking for. All of the animals are vet checked, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered when age appropriate.

Anyone who would like to help in other ways can donate money using an online platform such as Canada Helps or via Facebook. This will allow the shelter to direct the funds where most needed.

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