The Lake County Animal Shelter is experiencing something positive during the COVID-19 pandemic: an uptick in dog and cat adoptions.
“We have a record low census of animals at the shelter,” says shelter director Whitney Boylston, adding on the morning of April 30, the shelter only had 34 dogs and eight cats.
Normally, the shelter has 130-150 dogs and 200 cats.
“People are saying they have time on their hands and that they think it’s a good opportunity to add a pet to their family,” she says.
In addition to adoptions, the shelter is offering foster opportunities.
“If folks want to sign up to temporarily house one of our animals they can do that, it’s called a Shelter Break Sleepover, and we can match them up with a pet that we think is going to work out pretty well for them,” Whitney says. “If they decide they want to adopt the pet they are welcome to do that, and if they decide not to adopt the pet, we kind of create them as adoption ambassadors so that they can help us market and place that pet without it coming back to shelter.”
Sparky, a 3-year-old, 45-pound, black-and-white male dog, is participating in the Shelter Break Sleepover at the Clermont home of firefighter David Manes and his wife Cathy.
The couple wanted to see how Sparky would do around with their older dog, Gus, and their assertive female dog, Daisy.
“One of the nice things about Shelter Break is that it gets them out of the shelter and to see if they’re compatible with your other animals,” says Cathy. “My dog Daisy is big and she wants to play all the time, and we needed one that could keep up with her. We kept them separated a few days, but they could see each other through the doggy gate. We slowly got them together and they were figuring each other out. Now they’re best buds. They play together all the time.”
Cathy notes the Shelter Break Sleepover has been a great experience, and Sparky enjoys snuggle times. “Sparky fits right in. We will probably adopt him.”
The Lake County Animal Shelter has been abiding by all of the CDC recommendations “to heart,” says the shelter director.
“We have closed our lobby and we have Facebook videos that you can watch our process, we have a welcome tent outdoors, and our staff members are wearing masks when interacting with the public,” says Whitney. “They are maintaining six feet (social distancing) and we are doing our adoption counseling outside in the open-air play yard, so there are lots of adjustments that we have made.”
She adds: “We have maintained our commitment to finding positive outcomes for our homeless pets.”
The shelter is located 28123 County Road 561, Tavares, and can be reached by calling 352.343.9688.