Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control and the Allen County SPCA have taken in fewer animals this year since the coronavirus hit, the agencies' directors say.
Both agencies have changed their adoption procedures, which the directors believe have forced the shelters and people who adopt pets to focus on finding the right match.
“It has really helped us determine the best fit for what we have,” said Amy-Jo Sites, director of Animal Care & Control.
With more people staying and working at home, she said, fewer pets have been brought to the shelter at Hillegas and Butler roads because more people have decided to keep them.
From March 16 to May 15, Animal Care & Control took in 688 animals, compared with 1,231 during the same period last year. The number of residents who surrendered their dogs and cats to Animal Care & Control is down nearly 65% for dog owners and 62% for cat owners, according to statistics provided by the agency. Since August, the agency has asked that anyone who wants to surrender a pet first make an appointment. It does consider emergencies.
“You can call us for help before it gets to be the end result for your pet,” Sites said.
The Allen County SPCA has seen a similar story at its shelter on Hanna Street just south of Pettit Avenue. From Jan. 1 to May 21, 577 animals were brought in. During the same time last year, 855 were brought in.
“I hope it's because people are home bonding with them,” executive director Jessica Henry said.
In response to the pandemic, the agencies changed their adoption procedures.
Animal Care & Control closed its adoption center two weeks in late March. When it reopened, the agency made adopters apply and review their potential pets online. When potential adopters arrive at the shelter, they complete another application to reserve their place in line. They then return to their cars where adoption counselors call their cellphones and guide them through the process. Then they meet their potential pets.
Adopters are no longer allowed to walk through the shelter, which Sites believes can stress the animals.
“What has changed is people have an idea of who they want to adopt already,” Sites said.
The Allen County SPCA also temporarily closed its shelter several weeks and changed its focus from adoption to retention.
Those who want to adopt now have to complete an application, available online, and make an appointment to come to the shelter after a phone conversation.
“We have fewer adoptable animals,” Henry said. “It's been an interesting change and one that's been a silver lining in this (pandemic).”
The differences between Animal Care & Control and the Allen County SPCA include size, funding and enforcement.
Animal Care & Control is municipally funded with a $3.25 million budget approved by Fort Wayne City Council. It has 47 employees – 38 of whom are paid by the city and nine whose pay is covered by donations, Sites said. The agency is also authorized to enforce animal welfare laws.
The Allen County SPCA, which has a $1.2 million budget, doesn't receive any money from the city and is completely donor funded. It does not enforce animal welfare laws.
The agency is also not affiliated with the ASPCA.
At a glance
Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control
Address: 3020 Hillegas Road
Adoption hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, noon to 6
Allen County SPCA
Address: 4914 S. Hanna St.
Adoption hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Monday