The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society is asking residents to have an emergency plan in place for their pets during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the organization limits services to help stop the spread of the virus.
The Humane Society is closed to the public until at least March 29, except by appointment. But some services are still available.
Executive director Melanie Coulter said the organization is asking residents to hold off on surrendering healthy stray cats.
"If it's a healthy cat, the person should just leave them where they are, because they're likely to get home on their own, rather than coming in here when we have limited hours," she said.
Coulter said the Humane Society will accept stray dogs "because they do pose a public safety risk when they're running loose."
"But we encourage people to attempt to find the [dog's] owner first if they can, rather than bringing them in [as the] first response," she said.
Coulter said the Human Society will accept sick or injured animals as usual, adding that residents should check on their website and book an appointment if they believe their pets have been surrendered.
... Plan for what's going to happen if you aren't able to come home or are unable to take care of them. - Melanie Coulter, executive director, Windsor-Essex County Humane Society
"Intakes and reclaims are all being done by appointment at the moment," she said.
Coulter added that the Human Society is monitoring the COVID-19 situation with the public health unit and will determine when full services will be restored at a later date.
Here's a look at the modified services:
- All services at public spay/neuter clinic are discontinued. Any appointments already booked will be rescheduled.
- Urgent intakes of sick or injured animals, or stray dogs are available. Except in genuine emergencies, they will not be accepting owner-surrendered animals at this time. All intakes are by appointment. Call 519-966-5751 if you have found an animal in distress who needs assistance.
- Effective March 21, the Humane Society will not be accepting any new adoption applications. They have been working hard to move animals into foster homes, and staff are taking care of all animals remaining at the shelter until they can once again start moving them into adoptive homes.
- All events and education programming have been put on hold.
Coulter said animals are not at risk of spreading coronavirus, saying that COVID-19 fears are not a reason to surrender animals.
In terms of animal welfare during the ongoing pandemic, Coulter said pet-owners should have some extra food on hand and have medication available if pets require it.
"Also plan for what's going to happen if you aren't able to come home or are unable to take care of them," she said.