ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – While medical professionals work around the clock to provide care for patients amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are many professionals working to keep animals healthy, too.
Orange County Animal Services and Pet Alliance both have care specialists and shelter medical teams working day and night to provide care for animals within their facilities - a job that can’t stop due to a pandemic.
Caryn Morris, Digital Marketing and Communications Manager for Pet Alliance said the facility made the decision to ask volunteers to stay home rather than donating their time to keep group clusters within the shelter to a minimum.
“Pet Alliance Animal Care Specialists and our Shelter Medical team help with daily tasks in the shelter that ensures that our dogs and cats still receive all the love and care they need,” Morris said. “This includes daily cleaning and sanitization throughout the shelter and kennels, making sure everyone has a full belly, medical examinations and medicine distribution, as well as enrichment (playgroups, walks, catnip, cuddle time, etc) now that we no longer have volunteers onsite.”
Thankfully, Pet Alliance has not seen a drastic increase in surrendered pets since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Central Florida.
“With economic hardships playing a significant role in the increase of surrendered animals, we need to prepare now to help and protect the voiceless: our community’s pets," Morris said. “Whether it is people who need food for their pets or those who may, unfortunately, have to surrender an animal — we will be here for our fellow Central Floridians.”
Orange County Animal Services spokesperson Samantha Holsten said their facilities have seen an outpouring of support from community members looking to help during difficult times.
In response to COVID-19, #OCAS remains dedicate to providing essential services, now available via appointment only beginning Tuesday 3/24. Make a reservation to visit the shelter, for any need, by visiting https://t.co/9K9SGZFdjP. pic.twitter.com/RrDpMjSMjA— Orange County Animal Services (@OCAS_Orlando) March 23, 2020
“We’ve definitely experienced strong community support this month – receiving an increase in interested adopters, foster parents and donors,” Holsten said. “We have a very low kennel inventory at the moment – with just 78 dogs and 34 cats. For reference, last week we were caring for 143 dogs and 81 cats.”
While Pet Alliance is not taking any volunteers at this point, they are accepting donations.
“Donations of pet food can be dropped off or sent to either shelter and donations of money will help ensure Pet Alliance has the resources we need to care for the animals and hardworking staff as we weather this crisis,” Morris said.
The items most needed for both dogs and cats are canned wet food, dry food, milk/formula for kittens and puppies, puppy pads, and treats.
The way adoptions are being handled has also changed due to coronavirus. To maintain social distancing and to keep exposure risk to a minimum, Pet Alliance is scheduling adoption and fostering appointments online at their Orlando and Sanford locations.
Medical care is still being offered as well, buy by appointment only.
“Pet Alliance is still offering wellness appointments for folks looking to get low-cost vaccinations for their pets,” Morris said. “Currently, we are operating by appointment only and with a new protocol for social distancing.”
Appointments for low-cost vaccines and wellness checks can be found here.