Arlington Animal Shelter Adapts Its Services To Coronavirus

ARLINGTON, VA — Even though the Arlington County Animal Shelter remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, Arlington residents are still able access many of the shelter’s services online or by phone.

“We’re constantly thinking outside the box in how we can continue to help pets and people in our community, whilst being safe,” said Chelsea Jones, communications specialist with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which runs the shelter for the county.

Since April 8, AWLA has been offering virtual adoptions, where potential adopters are able to review available pets online. They can then set up a Zoom call to meet the pet and an adoption team member, and fill out all the necessary paperwork. If all goes well, the adopter can pick up their pet at the shelter.

“Every single day, five, six, seven animals are going home,” Jones said. “People really want to adopt right now. It’s been fantastic.”

At some point, AWLA hopes to move toward in-person adoptions on a case-by-case basis, according to Jones.

“The great thing is we’re able right now to have so many animals in foster homes,” she said. “That’s always the best outcome for any rescue or shelter, is to have as many as you can in real physical homes while they’re waiting to go to their permanent home.”

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When the shelter closed its doors in March, many of its services were put on hold, but AWLA is now working toward restoring them in some form other.

“We did just have our first drive-up rabies clinic,” Jones said. “Instead of people coming into the building to have their pet vaccinated, they were able to make an appointment and we did their vaccine in their car or right outside their cars.”

Thanks to the successful first outing, AWLA plans to offer the drive-up rabies clinic once a month through the rest of the year.

AWLA is also working toward making its low-cost spay and neuter vouchers available online. In addition, the pet pantry is still open to anyone who needs it every day of the week, except Tuesday.

The shelter’s largest fundraising event of the year, Walk for the Animals, typically takes place in May or June, but the pandemic forced AWLA to push it back to Sept. 12 and move it online.

“We were waiting and hoping that maybe there would be a chance that we could have it in person, but as time has gone on, we just realized it’s not safe,” Jones said. “Regularly, there’s over 700 people at the event and that’s just not something that would be responsible or us to even attempt to make happen this year.”

The day will be filled with a variety of online, family-friendly actives, such as a performance by the Great Zucchini and morning coffee with kittens. The goal of Walk for the Animals 2020 is to raise $100,000 to help keep the shelter running.

“We did decide to move it online, which we realize isn’t quite as fun as coming and hanging out with us and the dogs and everything, but we are really hoping that people will still take part and help us raise critical funds, especially now,” Jones said.

Also see …

Arlington Shelter Offers Virtual Adoptions During Coronavirus

Animal Shelter Closed Over Coronavirus Still Serving Arlington

This article originally appeared on the Arlington Patch

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