The Dawson County Humane Society has been practicing social distancing while their doors remain open through concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Executive Director Jason Hutcherson said patrons have been very respectful of the new rules that the Humane Society has put in place. Rules like, only one family being allowed to view pets at a time.
Hutcherson said some families will look at the dogs outside while another is inside visiting the cats in their roam-free room or a pet-to-family visiting room.
“Everybody has always been good about using hand sanitizer between animal rooms and such,” Hutcherson said. “Basic practices were already there but everybody goes the extra step now.”
While the Humane Society takes this time to do some spring cleaning, the 11 staff members have been incorporating social distancing into their new daily routine.
All 11 of them are never in store at the same time, Hutcherson said. They conduct their daily meetings in the lobby now instead of the break room, so employees can space out more and only one employee is allowed to eat lunch in the break room at a time.
They’ve cancelled several events that the Humane Society regularly sends volunteers and animals to, such as the Petsmart and Petco onsite adoption events. And to make matters worse, Petco has asked the Humane Society not to replenish the cats currently at their adoption center for the time being.
The Humane Society has also slowed down on the number of animals they are taking in to avoid an overload of animals. Though they will accept any animals from animal control, they will not be taking in any owner surrenders or strays unless a rise in pet adoptions occur.
“We’ll try to keep it balanced,” Hutcherson said. “If we get a few adoptions out and we don’t get anything from animal control then we’ll look at taking a few owner surrenders in.”
During situations like this, Hutcherson said he heard of some counties seeing an influx in people trying to surrender animals, but so far that has not been the case for them.
“The community has actually kind of rallied,” Hutcherson said. “We’ve rejuvenated the foster program and haven’t seen a lot of interest until the last two weeks. Now, we’ve seen an uptick.”
Hutcherson said that the Humane Society had eight adoptions this past week, but there would be anywhere from 15-20 adoptions throughout a normal week.
However, Hutcherson said that he doesn’t just want people coming to adopt pets because they have more time on their hands.
“If anybody was serious before social distancing began, now would be a good time to follow through because you have the time to spend potty training and working with them,” Hutcherson said. “The last thing we want to see is an uptick in adoptions just to see them returned in a month or two.”
At this time, the Humane Society is not accepting any volunteers other than one community service applicant so that everyone can stay as safe and quarantined as possible.