The Humane Society in Forsyth County is consolidating operations into one facility and changing the process for adoptions during the pandemic. It's working to meet community needs as more families struggle financially.

The agency is limiting guest interaction and ensuring social distancing for staff and guests. It's appointment only, no walk-ins allowed. Some adoptions are made using Facetime and Skype. And it's curbside pickup for your new furry friend.

Sarah Williamson, director of the Forsyth County Humane Society, says they haven't seen an uptick in pet surrenders at this time, but they're prepared to handle the situation if it changes.

“Because of the great outpouring of support for foster[ing], we were able to move all of our animals out of Country Club and into the Sturmer Park Circle location,” she says. "And then we were able to take a lemonade out of lemons opportunity to do a deep clean and sanitation of our Country Club shelter, holding it in preparation if we need to have animals housed there.”

A big surprise in all of this is the number of adoptions they have seen in recent weeks through their public plea to help foster animals during the coronavirus pandemic. She says they have a proud club known as “Foster Fails.” That's when people welcome animals into their homes on a temporary basis and then fall in love.

“Typically, we see if someone fosters, there's a 30 percent chance they will adopt that animal. Now we are seeing if someone fosters there's about a 50 percent chance they will adopt that animal.”

Williamson says the community support during this time has been overwhelming. The shelter is accepting donations online and they've been getting a lot of deliveries lately.

She urges people who find themselves in a bind and need a little extra help to contact their local animal shelter first. There may be community programs and resources available that could help them keep their pet.  

One of those is the Fuzzy Friends Pet Food Pantry, a ministry of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem. It provides free dog and cat food for low-income individuals, veterans and senior citizens over 70. Founder John Lockwood says they've loosened the requirements to help more people who are facing challenges because of the COVID-19 situation.

The application is done over the phone and proof of income hardships is on hold right now.

“We are seeing an increase of people who can't afford to feed their cats or dogs right now — majority of the time it's cats. I don't know why that is and we typically don't get enough cat food donations than we do dog food,” says Lockwood. 

Lockwood says the pet pantry usually serves around five to 10 people a week. But in the last few weeks, it's closer to between 20 and 30.

He says the social distancing requirements and other restrictions are also impacting their fundraising efforts for the pet pantry. The church hasn't been able to hold their usual events like car washes and bake sales. Instead, they're relying on social media and have set up a GoFundMe page to help meet the community's needs.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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