PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Volunteers at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control are incredibly important. However, because of coronavirus concerns, those volunteers are temporarily not allowed to help.
Maricopa County Animal Care & Control Director Mary Martin says there are around 500 active volunteers in the county.
“We consider them part of the team,” Martin said. “I know this is very hard for them, and it’s hard for us too. We miss them, but right now, this is what we feel we need to do to comply with the COVID-19 response and be sure we are serving the employees of our county.”
Signs of social distancing are everywhere in the Phoenix shelter that's on 27th Avenue. For now, you can adopt by appointment only. For everyone's safety, the idea is to limit the number of people in the building.
Without volunteers, Martin says Maricopa County staff members are being deployed in different ways to make up for the gap in service, like taking the animals on walks. It is also temporarily suspending some in-person services. That includes the following:
- Owned-dog and owned-cat surrenders
- Cat intakes
You can read more here.
“Any police action that needs our back-up, we’re right there,” Martin said. “If there’s a bite situation we need to be involved in, yes. But animals that are safe where they are, we’re asking people to shelter in place if they can.”
Because of the intake changes, there are more empty kennels. When Arizona’s Family spoke to Martin on Wednesday afternoon, it was in a kennel building that was empty for the first time in the three years she’s worked there.
"Because the numbers are reduced, dogs are getting more than they ever have," Martin said. "Who knows what tomorrow might bring, but right now, we are feeling pretty good about what’s happening for the dogs."
Adoptions also haven't slowed, Martin said, and they are overwhelmed by the support from the community. At last check, there were about 230 animals at the westside location. They typically could get up to 500 there, Martin says.
That average has slightly decreased thanks to Paulie and Tina O'Day. The Valley couple adopted Baxter the dog this week. “He found his forever home today,” Paulie said.
They are both out of work because of coronavirus. A new pet means a new companion for their dog Sammy, and it will help their mental health, they say.
“Right now, we’re at home 24/7 to do that [take care of a dog],” Tina said. “So it makes it a little bit easier to make yourself stay at home in the quarantine to have someone else to take care of.”
If you are considering adoption, you can make an appointment online. Martin also wants to remind people that fostering is an option.