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Shelters see spike in stray dogs as COVID causes staffing issues

Both Guilford County Animal Services and Forsyth Humane Society are experiencing shortages in staff and seeing more animals come in.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Animal shelters across the country are experiencing staffing shortages including Guilford and Forsyth Counties.

Shelter directors said this only adds to the stress as they deal with a surge in strays and surrenders.

Right now, Guilford County Animal Services is almost full. 

"It's a delicate dance if you look at it. Our animal population has increased. We're seeing a lot of stray animals coming in, specifically, the majority being dogs," Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega said.

Ortega said many workers and volunteers have called out either due to sickness or being exposed to COVID-19 as the omicron variant rapidly spreads. He said the shelter was already dealing with a shortage of veterinarian staff before the pandemic.

"There's a lot of uncertainty like what happens tomorrow so we're really operating on a day by day and just evaluating what our animal population is and what our staff population is so that we can make sure we can provide adequate service," Ortega said.

He said they could face a critical staffing shortage if things continue to worsen.

The Forsyth Humane Society is also facing a major staffing issue on top of an influx of dogs.

Mark Neff, director of Forsyth Humane Society, said at least six employees are out because of COVID-19 this week. He said this is the worst he's seen staffing since the beginning of the pandemic.

Neff believes there's so many strays because of economic challenges and families facing medical issues including COVID-19.

Here's what you can do to help:

  • make sure your pets have collars or tags
  • microchip your pet
  • consider fostering