Animal shelter remains operational

Loudon County Animal Shelter animal control officer Johanna Miller poses with Duncan, a 2-year-old male Doberman Pinscher mix, who is available for adoption after being picked up recently as a stray running loose.

Animals in Loudon County are being negatively impacted by the trickle down effect of COVID-19, and people are doing what they can to help.

The Loudon County Animal Shelter is still operating to ensure the well-being of every dog and cat in the area, but with some restrictions. Animals in the shelter are available for adoption, but by appointment only from serious potential adopters.

Animals that are available for adoption can be found on page A10 of this newspaper, the LCAS Facebook page, petfinder.com and adoptapet.com with photos and short biographies about the animals. The shelter has halted its Saturday hours in which the public could visit the shelter animals. The shelter also suspended operations of its various programs, April Kyle, animal shelter rescue and events coordinator, said.

“Our rescue transport with the GO North program is currently suspended, and that’s a really big, you know, asset to our animals, to our dogs, to be able to move them out,” Kyle said. “… Local rescue groups, we are still working with them, but of course it’s on a limited, very as-needed basis. Only the really super severe cases are being transported out as far as the dogs go.

“... Our cat adoption program where we partner with PetSmart in Turkey Creek, that is currently suspended ... and that’s normally how we adopt out most of our cats,” she added. “You know, everything’s just kind of been put — we’ve just pressed the pause button, I guess you could say.”

The main focus of the shelter for now is to place animals in permanent homes so they are not bounced back and forth. Kyle said the shelter is trying to encourage people to keep their animals.

“Everybody’s kind of panicking,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Oh no. I don’t know if I’ll keep my job, if it’s going to be in jeopardy. I don’t know what the future holds.’ ... We’re getting a lot of phone calls about like, ‘What should I do?’ Unless you’re 100 percent certain you cannot care for an animal, please don’t put it through dropping it off here and then calling us back the next day and asking for it back. That just puts a lot of stress on the animal.”

Kyle said there haven’t been “too many” animals dropped off. The ones being left are placed “pretty easily.” However, Kyle warned the shelter could fill up quickly.

“We are still operating animal control, as well, for the county,” she said. “This would be a great time to remind people about the laws in our state concerning dogs. You know, they do have to be kept on your own property at all times, and if you lose an animal, certainly do make sure you send us a picture and information about that as soon as the animal goes missing so we can try to get it back to you.”

Kimmey Goodson, Loudon County Friends of Animals president, said her program has completely shut down amid COVID-19 concerns because most of her volunteers are elderly.

“Now how (closing) affects the animals is we’re not pulling the seniors and adults out of the shelters and getting them … adopted into homes,” Goodson said. “We adopt out 600 a year. So while we’re shut down, these animals are just sitting in cages at the shelters instead of adopted.”

Goodson managed to adopt out all the cats that were in her foster care program prior to shutting down.

“It’s been rough, and we’re very sad because we adopt out 50 a month from Petsense Lenoir City,” she said. “What’s important, we help get the shelters we work with to no-kill on cats, and this is just a setback. … A lot of people don’t think about it. They only think of the people when it’s affecting the animals, too.”

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