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Shelters short on adoptable pets as so many leave for forever homes

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(WKOW) -- The coronavirus pandemic has played a big role in the operations of local animal shelters, as most have moved to appointment-only adoptions.

But people have continued to adopt and the number of animals still waiting for new owners is dwindling.

Sunday, the Sauk County Humane Society celebrated its last dog up for adoption going home.

"It was very exciting for us," said outreach manager Rachel Leuzinger. "Especially since she had been here so long."

For the shelter, it was also a first-of-its-kind moment.

"I've checked with all of the other staff who have been here for many years and they cannot remember a single time where we've had any clear kennels," Leuzinger said.

At the Dane County Humane Society, the only animals up for adoption Friday afternoon were 1 cat, 1 dog and a horse.

"I can't remember a time when we've had that few animals available," said director of development and marketing Amy Good. "It's pretty amazing how many people have stepped up to adopt over the last few weeks here."

It's been a similar story at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin in Janesville.

"People have been cooped up with nobody to talk to," executive director Mike McManus said. "Maybe a cat or a dog comes in handy."

Each of the shelters is still taking in new animals each day, but that number has gone down as well.

"We're seeing our fair share of surrenders and strays, but not as many as I anticipated," McManus said. "I think people are getting closer to their animals and that's a great thing."

It hasn't been an easy time for the shelters, but they've worked hard through the pandemic.

Now, they're looking to the future. Kitten season is right around the corner and soon many shelters will resume taking in animals from the overpopulated south -- which has been on hold due to CDC guidelines.

As the shelters work hard to adapt to the pandemic, they're thankful for supportive communities.

"I think if we had more animals up for adoption right now, they would continue to fly out the door as they have been," Good said.

In addition to its normal operations, the Dane County Humane Society temporarily takes in pets from patients hospitalized with COVID-19. They want people to have a plan for your pets -- perhaps a family member or a neighbor -- so in case you get sick, they have somewhere to go other than the shelter.

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Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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