COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the United States, Columbus Animal Control says they are seeing a decrease in animal intakes as a result of the coronavirus.
In April and May 2019 Columbus Animal Control had an intake of 465 animals. Since the pandemic, animal control has taken in fewer stray animals. Records show in March and April 2020, they took in 349 animals.
“We did see a major down take of animals and I do believe it’s because the community was more aware of keeping their animals safe during the COVID scare,” Contreana Pearson, Interim Division Manager of Columbus Animal Control, said.
The different amounts are a big change, with Animal Control taking in 116 fewer animals, according to Pearson. She believes they took in fewer animals in 2020 because of COVID-19.
The shelter picks up a good mixture of dogs and cats that are lost or have been abandoned. Between the months of March and September, the shelter gets more calls about cats. Those six months are known as cat season. Overall, Columbus Animal Control says they saw more cats this year than dogs.
Most cats and dogs that come into the shelter are strays; the dogs that make their way to the shelter tend to leave their yards because they’re not on a trolley system, other times they may have climbed over the fence in their yard. There is no leash law for cats, so they are allowed to roam free within their community, the only time animal control officers capture cats is if they are in a cat trap.
Still, the shelter has had some cases where animals have been abandoned by their owners. Some people in the community moved and left their animals behind, causing animal control to get calls from neighbors about the pets who have been abandoned.
“We appreciate the calls from the neighbors that call in and let us know that their neighbor has been gone for a number of days and the dog is not being taken care of. So in those cases, we will go out there and try to contact the property owners, if not we will have to remove the animal off the property for its safety,” Pearson said.
When the pandemic first began, those in the community were coming out in high numbers to adopt a pet. A year later with the pandemic still surging, adoption rates are continuing at a steady pace. Animal Control has held different events to boost animal adoption and bring awareness to the center. They hold events in the Petco parking lot showing dogs and cats in need of a home, as well as events on holidays at the center.
“That’s the biggest treat here for us at Animal Control when animals are adopted. The connection that the people make with the dogs, it just warms your heart. Usually when they go back there and engage with them, they’ll catch that one or two dog’s eye and they’ll be like, yeah, that’s going to be my pet today,” Pearson said.