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Animal shelters still seek adopters, fosters during pandemic

Despite the social distancing required to stop the spread of COVID-19, some area animal rescue and adoption agencies are still finding ways for people to adopt pets.

“We’re just as busy with adoptions as we were,” Homeward Bound President Jenny Robbins said.

That’s a surprise to her, because the agency partners with area pet supply stores to feature animals up for adoption in the store for a week at a time — and for the past month that hasn’t been possible.

Pets are being featured on and, Robbins said.

Adoptions are being done using social distancing and while being very mindful of contact, she said.

Mountaineers for Mutts is also continuing adoptions by using pictures and videos online to show off the animal — and practicing social distancing techniques to deliver the pets — Cat Coordinator Patricia Smyth said.

“I am putting the cat carrier on the lady’s doorstep and she will come out to pick it up and then put the carrier back outside,” Smyth said. “I will disinfect it and clean it further when I get home, which is something we do anyway between cats.”

If the cat isn’t a good fit, Mountaineers for Mutts will take it back, Smyth said.

Now is a good time to adopt, because owners will be home more to help their new pets acclimate — and having a pet around is a great stress reliever, Smyth said.

The Marion County Humane Society is also doing adoptions during the pandemic, though, briefly, the organization almost ran out of pets, Shelter Director Jonna Spatafore said.

“It’s a really good thing that never happens,” she said.

The run on pets was thanks to a $500 small business donation from Facebook, which was used to sponsor and reduce adoption fees on the day Gov. Jim Justice announced the shutdown.

The Humane Society is not accepting new pets however, because guidelines advise treating all new pets as if they have the novel caronavirus on them and suggests bathing them and quarantining them for 14 days — something there just isn’t space to do, Spatafore said.

Animals are being placed on a list and the shelter will take them in as soon as the pandemic is over, she said.

However, if owners feel they need to give their pets up because they can’t afford to take care of them, the Humane Society has a food bank and will gladly give people food for their animals.

Spatafore said the shelter has not had to lay off any of its three employees, and they are taking advantage of the nearly empty building to catch up on paperwork and deep cleaning.

It isn’t all good news for animal rescues, though.

Both Mountaineers for Mutts and Homeward Bound expressed concerns about fundraising.

Robbins said her organization typically has one large fundraiser per quarter — all of which have been canceled for the foreseeable future. Smyth said funding for nonprofits is tight as people suffer lost wages.

Other non-adoption parts of Mountaineers for Mutts mission are also being affected. The organization rescues animals from area kill shelters and works with no-kill shelters up and down the East Coast. However, with travel restrictions and other challenges imposed because of the pandemic, that program has been put on hold, Smyth said.

The trap, neuter, release program, which has the goal of reducing feral cat populations, has also slowed, she said. Many veterinarians are not performing spay and neuter surgeries during the shutdown.

Mountaineers for Mutts is looking for local fosters. Homeward Bound is also looking, mostly for long-term. Applications can be found at and

Marion County Humane Society No-Kill Shelter still has dogs and cats available for adoption. To see adoptable dogs, go to its Facebook page, at For more information about policies, or to inquire about a specific animal, send a message on Facebook, email or call 304-366-5391.