Coronavirus

Santa Cruz Steps up for Shelter Animals During the Pandemic

Community rallies to provide foster homes as county shelter works through quarantine

Erika Anderson, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter’s program and development manager, in the shelter’s mobile van.

While Santa Cruz sheltered in place, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter was in constant motion.

“We never shut down, and we never stopped doing adoptions,” says Erika Anderson, the shelter’s program and development manager. That means they continued to take in every animal that needed it, as well as continuing mobile services like spay and neutering, vaccinations and more. In addition, they started a pet food pantry every Tuesday from 10am-noon, bringing food donated by Earthwise in Scotts Valley, Pet Pals in Soquel, and community members.

One thing they didn’t have, however, was their army of volunteers, due to the health orders during quarantine. That affected how many animals they could effectively care for at the shelter, and forced them to rely more than ever on the Santa Cruz community to provide foster homes—and the community came through. Since quarantine began in March, the shelter has placed more than 70 animals in foster homes.

“During the first couple of weeks, the animals just flew out of here,” Anderson says. Though she doesn’t mean it literally, the shelter has been called on to help out in some unusual circumstances, like when 1000 hens were rescued from an Iowa egg farm that had to be shut down due to the coronavirus. The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter took in 80 of them, all of which were adopted within a week.

“It’s been phenomenal to see our team and our families work together,” says Anderson.

Though the volunteers are now back, the SCCAC can still use some help helping local animals through the pandemic. Anderson says locals can support the shelter through using their services, especially licensing and other normal processes that have fallen off during shelter-in-place, or through donations at scanimalshelter.org. The shelter is also accepting unopened pet food for its weekly pantry.

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