Oakland Animal Services clears space for potential pets of COVID-19 patients

 At Oakland Animal Services dozens of dogs are being moved out of the shelter and into temporary foster homes.

The idea is to clear out about half its space to make way for a potential wave of new dogs and cats that may be coming -- pets whose owners become affected by the coronavirus.

"We are really planning for a worst case scenario, building additional capacity to hold animals if we have to," said Ann Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Services. 

"What we are preparing for is the likelihood that people who lost their jobs can no longer care for their animals. Sadly, we know people are going to become incapacitated and possibly die. So those are animals who are going to need new homes."

The shelter is urging pet owners to make contingency plans in case they get sick.

"Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Who would be able to step in and help your animals if you needed that," she said.

The shelter expects to take in dogs whose owners are homeless and who will be moving off the streets during the pandemic.

But animal services wants to make it clear to the public that the shelter is not a temporary pet board and care facility. It is a place of last resort. 

It also says that while dogs and cats are not carriers of the cornavirus, people need to be cautious with them.

"Animals are like any other surface. If they are with someone who has the virus there is potential it is on their fur. So any animal coming into the shelter we are bathing. If it is not safe to do that we quarantine them for five days," Dunn said.

The shelter has also set up adoptions through its network of foster owners. The coronavirus hasn't stopped people from seeking out companionship.

"That is one of the silver linings of this. People are home in a way they aren't normally. So we're finding people do want to adopt."

The shelter says one way people can help is to become a foster pet owner, if they are able.