NEW YORK (1010 WINS) New Yorkers are hunkering down amid the coronavirus scare, but the business of caring for homeless pets continues at the city's animal shelters and they need help. Animal Care Centers of NYC has reached out to 1010 WINS so that we might help spread the word that they are in desperate need of foster volunteers.
"Similar to other service organizations, our staff cannot work from home to carry out their jobs", ACC spokeswoman Katy Hansen told 1010 WINS. "Therefore we are anticipating decreased levels of employees and volunteers and will really need the help of the community to provide temporary placement for the hundreds of animals coming through our doors."
ACC is focusing on two fronts: reducing onsite population through a major appeal for fosters, adoptions and placement; and managing and minimizing the number of new animals entering the shelter.
To that end, they're asking people to avoid surrendering healthy pets, following the guidance provided by the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA). NACA is advising animal shelters to take extra measures to reduce shelter intake to mitigate the short and long-term effects of COVID-19. If you are not facing an immediate crisis please consider surrendering your pet at a later date. For any pet owners who need to surrender immediately, ACC will take in the animal, as is required by their contract with New York City as an open admissions shelter.
Secondly, they're making an appeal to the public for foster volunteers to temporarily give shelter to an animal in your own home. Hansen says the need is dire, with 200 "on call" emergency fosters being sought to take an animal if ACC reaches critical capacity. This includes cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, but Hansen says the greatest need is for caregivers for medium to large dogs with medical issues. ACC provides all vet care, crates, supplies, and food.
Since many people will be working from home as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Hansen notes that now may be the perfect time to foster. "Not only does it help save a life, but pets are a great source of love and comfort - something we all need right now!", she told 1010 WINS.
In addition ACC has announced that its Bronx and Queens Resource Centers will be closed until further notice starting Saturday, 3/14. Staten Island ACC will be open from 9am - 5pm until further notice. Mobile Adoption Events for this weekend (3/14 and 3/15) have been canceled.
ACC is also asking people who find friendly strays to consider fostering that animal until the shelter can resume normal operations. Hansen tells 1010 WINS that pets typically stay pretty close to home when they go missing, so this helps get the animal home much more quickly, without having to endure the stress of the shelter. Stray finders can take the pet to a vet clinic or to ACC to check for a microchip, file a found report, and hold the pet to give the owner time to locate it. They also suggest using the lost & found apps Shadow and PawBoost.
For pet owners, ACC is encouraging you to make plans for your pets in the event someone in the home falls ill. People are advised to stock up on two extra weeks of pet supplies and identify a pet sitter who can help out if the owner becomes hospitalized. New Yorkers are also asked to please check on elderly family, friends and neighbors with pets who may need assistance.
As for whether pets can get the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement saying there is no evidence that dogs or cats can be infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
For more information on becoming a foster volunteer, click HERE.