Animal shelters, welfare groups step up to help as COVID-19 creates dilemma for Bay Area pets, owners

Humans aren't the only ones feeling the burden of COVID-19, and on this National Dog Day, here's a look at some of the local organizations helping out Bay Area pet owners and their 4-legged friends.
PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere in sight.

Because of that, it's creating a dilemma for pet owners in financial peril due to the economic downturn.

The economy is an important focus of ABC7's Building A Better Bay Area.

Feeding and caring for a pet is no different than raising a child. They need love, attention and occasional discipline.

But when the pandemic created economic turmoil, pet owners who lost their jobs or got sick had to turn for help. Animal shelters and welfare groups stepped up.

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"We've delivered or given out over 7,500 pounds of wet and dry cat and dog food, 6,000 cans of food to go with that, and almost 1,000 pounds of kitty litter," said Kurt Krukenberg, president of Humane Society Silicon Valley.

Support came from donors, corporations and fellow pet owners. Food drives continue as the pandemic shows no end point. Demand is growing.

"These pets are hungry, and you know people are trying the best they can, but if you have no jobs and they have no money, they have no resources to go to the store," said Julie St. Gregory at San Jose Animal Care Center.

The pandemic has created another problem as shelters anticipated distressed pet owners surrendering their beloved dogs and cats at the same time that shelter staff have been facing capacity issues and safety concerns.

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"There's a potential 40 million people to potentially lose their home, and even if we think maybe half of them may have pets, we're look at, you know, 10 million plus animals that may need some help," said Mary Ippoliti-Smith at Maddie's Fund.

That prompted Pleasanton based Maddie's Fund to offer $1 million in grants so 200 animal groups could expand their foster care programs.

"It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done," said Kay, who asked ABC7 to use only her first name.

Kay fosters a special needs dog named Mini.

Partial paralysis affects the hind legs.

Her foster care placement has provided support and 24-hour attention that makes a difference.

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"I'm providing her with a little bit of physical therapy, and next week, she actually has a swim session at a place," Kay said. "She wouldn't get all of that if she was in a shelter situation."

Humane Society Silicon Valley was able to triple the number of foster caregivers from 100 to 300, a cadre of volunteers who get training and support as the need grows.

On this National Dog Day, for those who would like to adopt a pet, San Jose Animal Care is sponsoring a virtual online Adopt-A-Thon this weekend. Adoptions will be free. More details can be found here.

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