Categories: Cat shelters

Coronavirus pandemic empties this animal shelter so why can’t it happen all the time?

Empty animal shelter due to the coronavrius pandemic and community assistance.

CALIFORNIA, USA: Last Thursday, Riverside County Department of Animal Services in Southern California shared an extraordinary video showing an entirely empty shelter. They said that they had cleared it. Yes, all the animals have been adopted and they thanked everyone who had adopted and fostered an animal. The sudden surge in adoptions had come about because of the coronavirus pandemic. It appears that the community had stepped in to take the pressure off the animal shelter and found ways to take responsibility for companion animals that would otherwise been taken to the shelter.

The community has come forward to our plea to help us adopt and foster animals and right now, at our facility, we have no animals up for adoption!

The manager, Julie, said that they are providing advice as to how residents can keep their animals at home rather than bringing them into the shelter. They should visit their website for more information. They have resources and ideas to help people take stray animals back home rather than to the shelter.

Note: videos on this site are typically made by people other than me and held on YouTube servers or the servers of other businesses (not the server storing this website). Sometimes the videos are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. It that has happened I apologise but I have no control over it.

There appears to be a general trend across America of increased adoptions and increased foster carers. The president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Matt Berkshadker, has said that his organisation had seen “nearly 70% increase in animals going into foster care through their New York City and Los Angeles foster programs compared to the same period in 2019”.

Comment: obviously this is great news. I remember seeing another photograph of an empty shelter. The coronavirus pandemic has forced society to look at how they can do things in different ways. Sometimes the alternative ways of doing things are better than the established ways. This may be an example. Perhaps we can carry forward some of these ideas for the future. There was a time when many animal shelters in America claimed that they were overcrowded, at saturation point, and had to euthanise healthy animals as a result. I am sure it still happens. Perhaps the advice given by Riverside County Animal Services will reduce the unnecessary euthanasia of shelter animals in the future.


However, the shelter is closed during the crisis. What has happened is that when an animal shelter closes and asks that residents don’t use the shelter the people who’d normally use animal shelter services find alternatives and they absorb the work and burden that would normally fall on the shelter. In basic terms the shelter is saying ‘go away and deal with the problem yourselves’. And people have listened and acted on the request because of an increased community spirit and because they have to. And also because they have the time in many instances as they are temporarily unemployed. Can it happen all the time? No, because the average citizen will find the easier route when it is available which means using the shelter services and employment will go back to normal eventually.


A negative aspect of the crisis is that, in general, donations to shelters have dropped off causing real concern. This slowing of charitable funding will continue going forwards as purse strings will be tightened due to family budgets being hit over the weeks of lockdowns and unemployment. This may lead to animal shelter insolvencies.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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