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Pet adoption numbers at local animal shelters skyrocket during coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 19:05:17-04

MILWAUKEE — As the coronavirus continues to spread across Wisconsin, you'll find empty animal shelters, but that's a good thing.

"But this is definitely the lowest numbers we have ever seen in my experience in the last six years," Kathy Shillinglaw, the outreach coordinator at Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC), said.

As of the date this article was published, March 30, MADACC had zero dogs and three cats up for adoption, compared to "a dozen dogs and maybe 20 cats," Shilinglaw said.

The coronavirus is playing a part in all of this, Angela Speed, the Vice President of communications for the Wisconsin Humane Society, said.

"People have more time at home. A lot of people do. And introducing a new animal right now allows them, the animal, more time to adapt to the family. People are able to take more time to do dog training."

The Wisconsin Humane Society adopted out 159 pets in just five days.

However, just because adoption numbers are up, does not mean these animal shelters are packed with people. Adoptions are by appointment only to keep the number of people in the building below ten and to practice proper social distancing protocols.

Empty cat condos at the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission on West Burnham Street in Milwaukee.

"Do your research first look at the animals online. We're also posting more information about each individual animal as well as videos to help you make your decision, so you can have a very specific animal in mind when you do come down to the shelter to adopt," Speed said.

You can't just come into MADACC or the Humane Society and wander around and play with different animals. You have to have a set animal in mind and have your mind made up for the most part.

As to whether it is safe to be around animals or adopt a new pet, the CDC said it doesn't have specific data to suggest that animals can transmit COVID-19.

"At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States," the CDC website said.

That doesn't mean that an animal can't catch a type of coronavirus, though.

"Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans," the CDC said.

While animals might not be able to get COVID-19, it's still essential to practice healthy hygiene habits to be safe.

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