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Adoptions at Harford animal shelter remain steady during coronavirus pandemic; nonprofit asks people to refrain from visiting

Adoptions from the Humane Society of Harford County have remained on an “even keel,” over the past few weeks as the new coronavirus has taken hold in Maryland, even as staff has asked people to refrain from visiting the shelter unless they have business there.

“[U]nless you are actively seeking to adopt an animal, need to come and reclaim a stray pet, have a donation, or have other urgent business at the shelter, please refrain from visiting the Humane Society of Harford County until restrictions are lifted,” the shelter posted on its Facebook page.

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“This is to protect the public, including our staff and volunteers. By keeping our staff and volunteers healthy and at full capacity, we can ensure that our animal residents will continue to receive the daily care they require and deserve.”

With the recent developments regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the changes occurring on a daily basis, we want you to...

Posted by The Humane Society of Harford County on Monday, March 23, 2020

Erin Long, the marketing director for HSHC, said staff has been receiving a lot of questions about whether foster families are needed for animals.

“Most of the shelters that folks are seeing on the news and social media are in need of fosters because they’re closing,” she said. “Because we’re still open, we want to keep our animals in the shelter for potential adopters. We may need to shift to taking appointments only, but that will be re-evaluated as we move deeper into the COVID-19 situation.”

Like many companies and organizations, the humane society is trying to do as much business as possible over the phone and online, Long said, and trying to limit the number of people coming the shelter, located off Connolly Road in Fallston.

“When folks need to come in, we have stations set up at both the adoption desk and the intake desk with hand sanitizer,” she said. “We are first determining what we can help them with to limit foot traffic and asking guests to practice social distancing while in the building.”

Fewer volunteers are also coming to the shelter. HSHC has cancelled all training classes for new volunteers and have stopped taking new volunteer applications.

“Most of our core team of ‘regulars’ are still coming every day, but those volunteers that came more infrequently are staying away,” Long said.

The shelter takes in about 3,000 animals per year and are seeing about eight to nine new animals come in each day.

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From March 17 through Tuesday, the humane society has taken in 13 animals surrendered by their owners and another 31 brought in by the Harford County Sheriff’s Division of Animal Control.

During the same time frame, the shelter has adopted out 13 animals, returned seven lost pets to their owners and sent 10 to rescues, Long said.

The daily intake hasn’t increased as a result of COVID-19 spread or worries, but it is increasing naturally with the arrival of several litters of kittens, she said. Kitten season — when a number of female cats give birth to their litters, flooding animal shelters — traditionally lasts from spring through October.

HSHC had planned a “Kitten Shower” for April 4 to solicit donations of supplies to help take care of kittens as well as find fosters to the felines, but it has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

A quarter auction fundraiser scheduled for last weekend was also canceled and, depending on how long state and federal restricts on large gatherings last, could have to cancel other future events — another quarter auction is scheduled for May 9 in Havre de Grace and a June 23 Paint Your Paint night is planned at Alecraft Brewery in Bel Air.

People who wish to donate to help out the Humane Society of Harford County can do so online at harfordshelter.org and clicking on “Ways to Give.”

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Animals will continue to come in to the shelter, both from the public and through animal control, Long said.

“Our rescue partners have been very helpful, and are stepping up to take animals into their programs to free space," she said.

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