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00000177-b32b-d5f4-a5ff-bbfb6e660000Here is the information you need to know about COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. For inforamtion from Centers for Disease Control and prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirusFor updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.The COVID-19 call center is available at 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

Caring For Pets In The ‘New Normal’

A Hope

Shelters and rescues in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are preparing to see a greater need of pet supplies during the pandemic.

And they’re answering the call. 

“We usually open up our pet food pantry once a month, but we realized that’s not enough right now,” said Paige Cary of the animal outreach nonprofit, A Hope. “Last month we gave away 237 pounds of food in an hour. So, we’re opening the pantry Monday through Friday from 2-3 p.m. or until the food runs out.”

These new hours are in addition to its regular pet food pantry day on the second Sunday of each month from 1-3 p.m. The program is open to any Santa Rosa County resident. For anyone who cares for community cats, they need to register at catstats.org/ahope4src ahead of time. 

The mission of A Hope is to reduce animal intakes at shelters, and while the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter is not taking surrenders, Cary said she’s heard from pet owners how difficult it is to not only care for your human family, but your fur family. 

“Pets are important, especially in times like these when you may be home alone,” she said. “We need the comfort of our pets now more than ever.” 

In Escambia County, residents can get pet food assistance from Pensacola Humane Society’s pet pantry which provides the food at no cost. Pet owners must present ID. The pantry is open 10 a.m.–3 p.m. seven days a week at 5 N. Q St., Pensacola. 

The group 400 Paws Inc. also is providing assistance. The philanthropy organization mostly serves the community with grants to local shelters and rescues, but seeing a need for emergency assistance, they opened their pet food pantry last year. Founder Kim Cheney said it’s been hard to keep the pantry stocked lately. 

“Everything on our Amazon wish list is sold out, and Chewy is almost 10 days behind,” she said. “Right now, monetary donations are needed so that we can buy something when we see it.”

The pantry regularly helps about 40 families each month and Cheney said she’s expecting more at the next event, April 26. To receive assistance, email kim@400paws.org for an application. The pantry is located at 1147 Creighton Road, and is open on the fourth Sunday of every month from 1-3 p.m. or until food runs out. 

During the pandemic, the organizations are providing curbside pick-up and taking extra precautions to avoid contact. 

And if you need a pet to keep you company in self-quarantine, Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter is offering the “Fetch A Friend” no-contact adoption process, which allows for people to view animals online and have the pet brought to the car or home. After a week, the shelter will call to finish the adoption. Since the program launched Thursday, the shelter has already some participation. 

Last month, the shelter was cleared out and placed in foster homes, but shelter has had 20 essential intakes since then. There are currently 90 animals in foster care. Potential adopters can learn more about pets through the Fetch A Friend Facebook group. 

Jessica Jade, manager of operations at the shelter, said staff is still trying to find homes for pets while staff has been reduced to essential personnel. They just have to be innovative in this “new normal.”

“We still have to work at saving the animals, and be healthy and safe,” she said. 

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.