Washing the dog

Volunteer Lisa Reynolds gives Fitz a bath Thursday at the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society. The Humane Society has mostly closed its doors to the public, but volunteers are still needed and can sign up at neahs.org / volunteer.

JONESBORO — The coronavirus pandemic has caused local animal shelters to rework how they care for and get animals adopted.

“When the pandemic first appeared we had people that were wanting to surrender their dogs out of fear that the dog was a contributing factor to the spread of COVID-19, or that without work they could not care for their dogs,” Larry Rogers, Jonesboro Animal Control Supervisor, said. “This only lasted for approximately two weeks. We have had many donations of dog and cat food from citizens and local businesses, which allowed us to help people that were unemployed or had lost income.”

The Northeast Arkansas Humane Society mostly closed its doors to the public since the pandemic. Lisa Trevathan, rescue coordinator and who is in charge of cat intake and adoptions, said meet and greets with dogs and puppies is done in outdoor grassy kennels, and cats and kittens have their meet and greets on FaceTime or with one family member who is required to wear a mask in the building. Meet and greets also have to be done by appointment.

Rogers said the Jonesboro Animal Control Shelter has had to totally revamp the way it does adoptions now, too. The shelter has put every dog and cat on its Facebook page, and encourages residents to look at them and then call for an appointment to do a meet and greet with the animal.

Jonesboro Animal Control has had to stop educational programs, visits to nursing home and assisted living with animals, volunteer programs, training and certifications for city and counties that have personnel needing training and low cost vaccination and cat neutering clinics partnered with Northeast Arkansans For Animals.

“Tours of the facility and animals have been stopped during the time of the pandemic,” Rogers said. “We have had to stop many community activities, which has definitely hurt the citizens and animals.”

According to a May 27 Facebook post, the Humane Society’s low cost spay/neuter clinic for low income families is closed as well.

Adoptions have gone up 10 percent over the same time as last year, and the shelter has been sending more animals to rescues in northern states, said Rogers.

Trevathan said adoptions have dropped some for The Humane Society, but it has recently started to pick back up.

The Humane Society has had its two biggest fundraisers canceled this year, Trevathan said. The Humane Society’s Centennial fundraiser is canceled, and the annual Easter bake sale, the second biggest fundraiser, was replaced with a Father’s Day cake sale.

“COVID has drastically decreased our donations,” Trevathan said.

She said before the pandemic people would come look around and on their way out give $5 or $10. People are still able to donate, however. There is a donation bin outside the Humane Society where residents can drop off donations or put a donation at the front door and ring the doorbell, and monetary donations can be made online.

The Humane Society started accepting volunteers again over the last few weeks and they have been a huge help, said Trevathan. Their main responsibilities are washing dogs and cleaning kennels right now.

The Humane Society is holding pet food handouts the first Thursday of each month from noon to 3 p.m. at its shelter.

Volunteers and prospective adopters can go to neahs.org and Jonesboro Animal Control’s Facebook page for more information.