Clark County’s two humane societies are making changes to pet adoption policies and other services due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Humane Society for Southwest Washington announced Tuesday night that it is closed for adoptions. However, it planned to start adoptions by appointment only no later than March 24.
Denise Barr, vice president of marketing at the Humane Society, said the shelter made the change after realizing people coming to the shelter weren’t maintaining recommended social distances. It’s not clear when the shelter will resume normal adoption procedures.
“We can’t fully see everything that’s going to happen,” she said. “We have to make almost daily decisions about that.”
The Humane Society is still taking in surrendered pets, strays and lost and found animals but stopped accepting animals from other shelters to preserve space. Barr said as the virus spreads through the community, there could be a need to board animals whose owners are hospitalized.
The shelter is also slowing down surgeries but maintaining its normal animal enrichment activities. ReTails Thrift Store, the group’s fundraising second-hand store, is closed to shoppers and donations for two weeks starting today. All tours, youth programs and volunteer orientations have been canceled.
A task force at the Humane Society has discussed other strategies of adapting to the changing environment, so shelter operations remain in flux.
“We don’t want to stop services, we just have to retool them in a way that will work,” Barr said.
The shelter will provide updates about closures and services at southwesthumane.org/washyourhands.
West Columbia Gorge
The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society in Washougal announced that it will not accept non-emergency surrendered animals for the time being. That means the shelter will only take animals if there is an emergency such as domestic violence, hospitalization or homelessness, said Megan Dennis, the humane society’s executive director.
Should the need arise during the COVID-19 outbreak, Dennis said the Humane Society has a partner that can board animals.
The shelter will do adoptions by appointment only. In a message on the website, the shelter asks that patrons “fill out the adoption application on the Adoption Page, and our staff will respond within 24 business hours after reviewing the application and to set up the appointment.”
The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society will continue taking in lost or stray dogs within Camas and Washougal city limits. And, the organization can arrange to get pet food to those who need it.
“Things are evolving by the hour. I think that we’re all just trying to stay on top of it,” Dennis said, adding the organization is working to keep staff, volunteers and animals safe. “It’s definitely impacted us and everybody that’s involved with us.”
Volunteer shifts are being restricted. While volunteers are still cleaning the facility and administering medications, volunteers who normally take dogs for walks or do other enrichment activities are no longer coming into the shelter. Dennis said the small facility has one staff member in the building at a time who takes on those tasks volunteers used to do.
The policy changes are indefinite and will be reevaluated on a day-by-day basis using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, Dennis said.