Pets and the Pandemic: How Our Animal Shelter is Adapting to COVID-19


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By Rylie Barber

Jasmin – Three Month Old Tuxedo Kitten [All photos from the Mendocino County Animal Shelter Facebook Page]

Undoubtedly, the spread of the Coronavirus has rocked the nation. Citizens have taken part in a collective effort to slow the spread by wearing masks, standing six-feet apart, and staying home. Organizations such as the Mendocino County Animal Shelter have had to adapt in numerous ways, such as altering the way that adoptions are handled, decreasing their animal population, and working with a lesser amount of volunteers.

According to the Mendocino County Animal Shelter Director, Richard Molinari, “The community really stepped up and assisted us greatly.” Director Molinari described how, “A majority of our shelter animals either left in foster care or were adopted by the public.” Despite the struggles, the Mendocino County Animal Shelter has shown enormous fortitude and efficiency in handling the changes brought on by the pandemic. 

In a time of both confusion and fear, perhaps our local animal shelter can provide us with a glimmer of hope. Director Molinari described a silver-lining that has emerged from the pandemic:, “During this COVID-19 situation, animals and their owners are forming improved relationships due to the time the owners have to spend with them.”

Princess – One Year and Nine Months Old Mixed Breed

Per the guidelines of multiple animal veterinary teaching universities, the animal shelter has only been accepting sick, aggressive, or stray animals, according to Director Molinary. Molinary said, “We have since the beginning of COVID-19 situation maintained about a 50% occupancy rate of animals…” In addition, the shelter has learned to run without the help of as many volunteers. Director Molinary described the shelter’s animals being cared for by a “Staff and a small number of selected volunteers [who] interact, socialize, and exercise the shelter animals routinely.” This indicates that the animals at the shelter have maintained a relatively consistent level of care over the months following March. The shelter has also modified how they handle the matter of adoption. Molinary explained that “We conduct scheduled adoption appointments with the public by having them fill out all of the required adoption paperwork at home…” In these ways, the shelter is doing its part to both protect the community and ensure that care is provided to the animals.

When asked what the public can do to help the shelter, Molinary answered, “The community can vaccinate, microchip, and license their pet animals.” By doing these things, Director Molinary said people can make it easier for the shelter to reunite families with their beloved pets. Director Molinary would also like for the public to, “look to friends, neighbors, coworkers or other family members to possibly house and care for their animals if they were affected personally by COVID-19.” 

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