COVID-19 has impacted every single person living in the United States, whether that be everything from losing their job to losing a loved one. These were unprecedented times each community is still struggling to adapt to even seven months later. In Schenectady NY, many people are already living under the national average household income, so the pandemic has proven to be even harder to adapt with. It’s easy to forget a very large percentage of those affected by COVID-19, because they are extremely less likely to contract the virus. Although animals like cats and dogs have contracted the virus in the past, it was only a handful of cases and experts are positive pets are far safer than humans from this deathly virus. However, just because animals are less likely to directly contract the virus, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as affected by the repercussions and collateral damage. Many shelters in Schenectady and local areas have been hit harder than ever due to the pandemic and many are struggling to survive. Many families are not able to afford to keep a pet or get their pet proper veterinary care after losing their job due to the pandemic. They are then forced to surrender their pet to a local shelter, causing a build up of more and more animals in an already overcrowded and understaffed shelter. Another aspect that shelters have been affected by is a decrease in volunteer help. Most shelters rely heavily on the volunteers that come in and because most volunteers do not financially rely on their position at the shelter, they are much more resistant to come in and volunteer when there are such high risks for disease transmission. Shelter adoption rates have also dropped drastically, as many people are struggling to adapt as it is, they aren’t looking to make a change and adopt a new furry friend. Shelters are becoming more overcrowded and have less resources, including food, blankets and staff. This is an incredibly important issue that is currently being overlooked, but there are important measures being taken in attempts to help local shelters.
Many states are working with local pet food banks to encourage donations and try and help alleviate the current stress on shelters. The Humane Society created a Covid-19 Relief Fund to help support local shelters, however there is still so much more we need to do to help. Anything from buying dog food to adopting a pet can help these shelters stay afloat during such hard times. We are a community and we have to come together during difficult times to help our local non profit businesses.
The Animal Protective Foundation (https://www.animalprotective.org/dev/) is located in Schenectady, New York and was hit especially hard by COVID-19. Due to social distancing regulations, they are unable to hold in person tours. This leads to an overall decrease in interest from the general public, as tours were a really great way to bring the community into the shelter and allow them to see first hand how many animals desperately needed their help. Heavy sanitation is also another costly additive the shelter is struggling to continue implementing, however they are aware it is incredibly important and necessary for public safety. This is putting a lot of strain on the shelter currently and they are in an incredibly hard position. Anything can help, we need to stand together and help the animals who are unable to help themselves.
Here you can find a video by TODAY exploring the topic of fostering shelter pets during these hard times: