Animals at a Manhattan shelter are becoming victims of the virus — without ever contracting COVID-19.
The doors to the Animal Care Center of NYC in East Harlem are closed to the public Wednesday night, with a bright red sign out front letting the community know that COVID-related staffing shortages are to blame. Risa Weinstock, the CEO of the city-run shelter, said more of their staff members are in quarantine than have tested positive for the virus.
That means far fewer people are available to walk, play with and care for the animals living at the center on East 110th Street. Now the shelter is frantically searching for homes that would be willing to provide short-term stays for the dogs, cats and even guinea pigs.
"We move some animals to locations in Brooklyn and Staten Island, relied on our rescue partners and we've pushed fosters and adoptions," said Weinstock.
In 24 hours, the shelter has been able to find new temporary homes from 45 pets. Their biggest remaining need is helping large dogs find fosters with access to spaces to stretch their legs and play.
"The urgency now is to place large dogs so that we can give more time and attention while we are short-staffed," Weinstock said. She adds that over the last 10 months, the shelter has been instrumental in helping people keep their pets.
"We have a team of people who went into homes of people who may have been hospitalized ... we were there for anybody who needed our services," she said.
Now the shelter needs the help, as staff needs time to take care of themselves.
"We give them our support by allowing them to take the time off they need," Weinstock said.
If you are interested in short-term fostering or adopting an animal from Animal Care Centers of NYC, visit their website to see how you can help.