Adoptions, also, have decreased, according to Sangamon County administrator Brian McFadden, but there remains plenty of room at the inn. As of Thursday evening, kennels, which can hold about 90 dogs, had 20 canines, with only five being adoptable – the rest are on ice due to biting events or court holds. Just 10 cats were being held in the kennels that have room for 80 felines.
Volunteers aren’t allowed in the building, but paid staff is keeping up. “Because the census is so low, the staff now have more time to regularly walk the dogs, take photos for adoptions and assist with adoptions in other ways that the volunteers have done,” McFadden writes in an email. “The low census has also helped with the staging and mechanics of installing…new kennels.” Calls for service, also, are down. They started dropping around March 8, McFadden says, and are down 32% during the past two weeks compared to the same time period last year.
“Everything has slowed down for the most part,” McFadden wrote.
At the Animal Protective League, a private nonprofit group, executive director Deana Corbin says that the shelter reduced the number of animals by at least half as shutdown orders loomed or took effect.
“We weren’t sure what the intake situation would be – would people be surrendering more sick or injured animals?” Corbin said. “We did that in a preemptive way, so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”
So far, at least, APL has not been overwhelmed. Animal shelters are essential under state orders that have forced other businesses to close. APL is conducting adoptions by appointment. In Chicago, according to media reports, shelter kennels are empty or nearly so.
“There’s probably a lot of factors in play,” Corbin said.
People are staying home, Corbin said, and so would-be strays have less chance of escape. Also, there is a bonding element that preexisted any pandemic.
“It’s proven that animals reduce stress and anxiety – we’ve always kind of pushed things like this,” Corbin said. “People tend to look at their animals differently in a crisis.”
The APL’s low-cost spay-and-neuter program remains operational, but numbers are down. “There’s been a lot of cancellations,” Corbin said. “We’re trying to prioritize cats, especially.” Kitten season, when litter sizes typically exceed the number of prospective cat owners, is nearly here, she said.
“We’re cautious about what will happen,” she said.
Contact Bruce Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.