County animal shelters and animal control officers are attempting to operate as closely to normal as possible despite the coronavirus outbreak, with shelters in Daviess and Ohio counties continuing animal adoptions and responding to calls for service.
But the shelters in Daviess and Ohio counties have curbed public access to their facilities and have taken steps to maintain social distancing while handling animal adoptions.
“We are doing adoptions,” said Ashley Thompson, director of Daviess County Animal Control. “We adopted a cat yesterday.”
The Daviess County shelter is limiting the number of people inside the facility at any given time, and will turn away people who just want to browse the animals, Thompson said. But the shelter is still conducting adoptions to people who have serious inquiries about an animal.
“We don’t let anyone into the shelter to visit the animals,” Thompson said. Animals can be viewed through the shelter’s website.
Even adoptions are done with an emphasis on social distancing, Thompson said.
“If they want to adopt a dog, they have to do it outside,” she said.
Matthew Daniel, animal control officer for Ohio County, said animals are still being adopted but can only be viewed through the website.
“As of right now, no one is coming inside the building,” Daniel said. Meanwhile, animal control officers are only taking emergency calls to pick up animals. For example, animal control will pick up an animal if a call comes from law enforcement or first responders, Daniel said.
As for adoptions, “if someone is interested in an animal, they can do that on Facebook,” he said.
Animal rescue groups that normally take animals from the Ohio County shelter are not currently taking them, Daniel said.
“Right now, under the circumstances, we are not able to do many transports because the rescues (groups) don’t want much contact,” Daniel said.
Ronnie York, dog warden for the Hancock County animal shelter, said, “We are still adopting (dogs) out, but we are trying to do social distancing, and that makes it a little difficult.
“A lot of people are filling out (adoption) applications online,” York said. “I do have my facility where people can’t enter without calling me first.”
York said people should check social media for dogs up for adoption at the Hancock shelter, and said people should call before trying to come there.
“I’m probably going to ask questions: ‘Are you sick?’ ‘Are you coughing?’ York said.
The outbreak has resulted in a lack of access to veterinary care for the Hancock shelter, he said.
“I think the biggest problem we are going to have is the vet’s offices are closing. They are only taking emergency cases,” York said. “It’s going to be hard to adopt them out spayed and neutered.”
The governor’s prohibition on travel outside the state worsens the veterinary problem. “My vet is in Indiana. What am I supposed to do?” York said.
Bruce Miller, animal control officer for McLean County, said the office is still picking up animals.
“Luckily for us, it has been quiet,” Miller said. “People are not going out much with their animals.”
Thompson and York also said there are fewer animals in the shelter than normal, although York said spring is usually a busy season for animal shelters.
“This is the time of year when the shelters fill up,” he said.
Thompson said the hope is to keep the office open through social distancing.
“A lot of things could happen,” Thompson said. “If someone gets exposed (on the shelter staff) it might get to the point where we can’t take animals, anyway.”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse