During coronavirus closures, what happens to animal shelters?

Lacey said that while Animal Haven has a duty to the animals as a welfare organization, it is also concerned for the entire nation, city, state and its staff and volunteers. The nonprofit plans to have a skeleton staff by next week but also hopes to have fewer animals as a result of adoptions and fostering, thanks to an "army of volunteers."Similarly, the Animal Care Centers of NYC restricted general admission on March 16. Only interested adopters, fosters and emergency-only pet surrenders will be allowed in the building. "Unaccompanied minors as well as groups consisting of three or more people will not be allowed inside the building."

What are larger animal organizations doing?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' most recent site update includes the suspension of various client services to help protect employees, clients and animals. The suspended services include spay/neutering mobile clinic services in New York and Los Angeles and preventive services in Miami like "vaccinations, deworming, microchipping, screenings for FeLV/FIV tests, Heartworm tests, or intestinal parasites, for otherwise healthy animals."

It's certainly unpleasant to take your dog outside when it's snowing or raining, but don't forget that dogs' paws are just as sensitive to heat as human skin.

“The ASPCA is committed to prioritizing the health and safety of pets and their owners, and we are closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19,” Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, vice president of ASPCA shelter medicine services, said on the organization's website. “A pet’s first line of defense is a well-prepared owner, and we strongly encourage pet owners to take the necessary precautions and incorporate pets into their preparedness plans to keep their family — including their pets — healthy."ASPCA also recommends that owners wash their hands before and after handling their pet's food, supplies or the pets themselves. Owners should stock up on pet supplies including a 30-day supply of your pets’ medications and at least two weeks’ worth of food. Designating an emergency caregiver is also a good tactic as well as preparing a dossier for your pet that includes their habits, preferences, medical conditions and any other relevant information.
Similarly, the Humane Society of the United States recommends that owners do the above in addition to adopting a pet. HSUS stresses that now is a great time because it can help reduce "the potential strain on shelters" in case these organizations start to see an increase in the number of requests to provide foster care for pets of people who become seriously ill or need to be hospitalized.

If adopting or fostering isn't something you can do, the organization recommends donating supplies to both animal shelters and other organizations like human food banks.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

What can you do to help?

Similar to HSUS' recommendations, Lacey suggests reaching out to your local shelters to see if they need help fostering or adopting animals. She also recommends making monetary donations if you are unable to help by fostering or adopting an animal. Donations are something that can be done remotely. "It’s a big hit to all of us and our goal right now is just to take it day by day," she said.

She also encourages people to contact their local shelter first. At a time when social distancing and limited travel is encouraged, it's best to contact shelters via email or phone first to set up an appointment to come in.

Can the pet I have at home get me sick?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that so far, it hasn't received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. However, the agency recommends proper hand-washing after being around animals, since they can still spread other diseases to humans.

Can I get my pet sick if I have COVID-19?

If you contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the CDC recommends restricting contact with pets just like you would with people. Limited contact with animals is recommended until "more is known about the virus."

Your dog needs his own cozy spot as well, preferably a crate, a comfy bed that’s his alone and a selection of appropriate toys.

When possible, sick owners should have another member of the household care for their pets . A good rule of thumb is to avoid contact like petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. "If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask."