How animal shelters are adapting to life with COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has forever changed our lives and we’re already seeing effects of this everywhere.  We are all figuring out how to continue living our lives while maintaining safe social distancing and living some of our lives digitally. Animal shelters are no different in this regard. So, how are animal shelters adjusting to the coronavirus?


  1.     Taking their events online

The Miami-Dade Services (“MDAS”) and Friends of Miami Animals Foundation (“FoMA”) got creative in early April and took to weekly Facebook Live to host Virtual Adoption Thursday. These events allow people the opportunity to virtually meet the shelter’s pets while maintaining social distancing. So far, nearly 75% of the pets featured have been adopted and found their forever homes! 

Online Animal Zoom - FoMA Pets

  1.     Changing the processes involved in visiting shelters

In the past, shelters could be filled with people searching for their new furry family member. Today, MDAS and other shelters are enforcing limits on how many people can enter and be in a room together at any time, emphasizing the necessity of social distancing.  Additionally, hand sanitizer is a must and shelters now require visitors to wear masks at all times during their visit. At Miami-Dade Animal Services, our County’s only open-admission shelter, the process of fostering a pet is moving digitally, too. Instead of a training course in person to prepare, MDAS now conducts one-on-one training sessions with only one person in the household taking part in the training session, with sessions staggered to maintain safe social distancing.


  1.     Running out of pets

A small piece of happy news out of everything going on in the world is that we’re seeing the importance of pets in people’s lives. While people are self-isolating in their homes and most of the country has received stay-at-home orders, many are turning to animal shelters to find a companion for their alone time. A shelter in Chicago recently ran out of adoptable pets for the first time in its existence and shelters all over the country are seeing major rises in the number of both adoptions and fosters. Across the country, shelters are being emptied out or left with a far more manageable number of animals to take care of but we keep in mind that many pets are in foster care and may be returning to the shelter so we continue to promote adoption as the only option even while pets are in foster care.

  Sleepy Retriever - FoMA Pets

Despite all the steps that shelters and advocates are taking and the positives that come with them, things are challenging in the world of animal shelters in the age of COVID-19.  With so much need in the community and less traffic to the shelters day-to-day, they are receiving less attention and less in donations. Employees and others are working hard to ensure the health and safety of pets and people alike, but shelters are running out of resources to do this important job. While giving your time is always appreciated in normal times, we are in extraordinary and unprecedented times. Donating to a shelter’s wish list ensures that shelters and pets receive items that they need and can use in their life-saving work. Contact your local shelter to find out ways that you can help them during this time. Or, visit and make FoMA your charity of choice while shopping!


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