Local animal shelters are open, and staff continue to care for stray and surrendered pets in the Northland.

The current orders prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people, however, have impacted how they conduct business.

At the Humane Society of Douglas County, that means only serious adopters or people reclaiming their pet can visit. Strays may still be dropped off. Surrenders are not being taken at this time.

“It’s just better for everybody to stay home,” said Shelter Director Sheila Keup.

Volunteers help enrich the lives of the pets, she said, but the shelter is close to capacity with just its seven staff members.

The Animal Allies Adoption Center is also closed to casual visitors. The shelter remains open during regular hours for scheduled surrenders, stray intakes and scheduled adoption appointments. Development Officer Michelle Carter said the shelter's 30 employees rotate in and out of the building on their regular shifts and maintain social distancing at work.

Staff at both buildings said adoptions are encouraged, and foster homes are needed.

“If everybody has to stay home right now, what a perfect time,” Keup said. “If you’ve been thinking about adding an animal, it’s a great time to do it because you’re going to be home, or somebody’s going to be home.”

Owners would have time to train their new pet or acclimatize it to the home, Carter said, and pets can be a good stress reliever.

There are currently 10 dogs and 14 cats available for adoption at the Humane Society of Douglas County; Animal Allies has 21 pets ready for a new home, with more animals becoming available over time.

Animal Allies encouraged potential adopters to call ahead, and Carter said it’s important to shelter staff that the family is a good fit for the pet.

“What we’re most concerned with is making sure that the animals are placed into the right home,” she said. “We are encouraging people to adopt, but we also don’t want them to make a spur of the moment decision and bring a new pet into their home if it’s not the right time for that.”

Despite the orders and restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19, she said, shelter staff remain busy behind the scenes caring for stray animals.

“Their needs really don’t stop just because we are experiencing this all right now,” Carter said. “So we are here taking care of them every day.”

Contact the Humane Society of Douglas County at 715-398-6784 or hsdccheri@gmail.com, visit the website or Facebook page. Contact Animal Allies Humane Society at 218-722-5341 or info@animalallies.net, visit the website or Facebook page.

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