Our furry friends may not be at risk for COVID-19, but those in local shelters are feeling the impact of the disease. According to some area animal shelters, donations have lagged significantly in the last week due to economic uncertainty.

“We’re doing everything we can to sustain ourselves,” says Melissa Susko, Pet Helpers‘ executive director. Around 80 percent of revenue for Susko’s organization is through donations and fundraising events, and as she puts it, they’re “way down.”

The executive director points to the recent swath of events that her shelter and others have canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak for this. Individual donations are also down, likely due to the big economic hit the coronavirus caused.

Dorchester Paws has also noticed a decline in donations. Maddie Moore, director of development and marketing, says they saw 20 percent less donations in quarter one, attributing this to COVID-19.
[content-1] The trend has not been a problem so far for the Charleston Animal Society, says president and CEO Joe Elmore. Donations have stayed consistent, he says, but his outlook for the future is not as bright. COVID-19 has affected the Animal Society’s finances, he says, and April will be difficult without events to raise funds quickly.

Susko has a similar worry. “April’s going to be a very hard month,” she says.

Fundraising may be a challenge right now, but adoptions and animal fostering have increased for the Animal Society and Pet Helpers. “Fosters are our backbone,” Elmore says.

Susko attributes the uptick in adoptions and fosters to “community spirit” and many people wanting an animal companion for their extended stay indoors.

“We really appreciate the community support,” she says.

Dorchester Paws has noticed a decrease in adoptions, which could spell trouble, despite their increased foster rates. Moore notes April and May are some of the busiest intake months for the group, but with fewer adoptions, they face possible overcrowding at their facility. In an attempt to avoid overcrowding, Dorchester Paws is offering $25 adoptions through April 1.

Pet Helpers and Charleston Animal Society have purposefully decreased their intake rates for the time being. Both are taking animals in on an emergency basis to decrease the chance for community spread of COVID-19.

Representatives from all three shelters encouraged the community to donate what they can, including animal food and resources to Pet Helpers’ pet food bank.

Elmore says panicking right now will get the Animal Society nowhere because the hard times are right around the corner. “Now is the time to demonstrate a steady hand,” he says.

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