BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control issued a press release today that is a head scratcher. While Palm Beach County is officially telling everyone to limit interaction with others, to stay inside when possible, and to make smart choices, Animal Care and Control wants you to drive to their shelter and adopt a pet that you’ve never seen, that you’ve never interacted with, and that may or may not be carrying a virus that may or may not be transmittable to humans. (That’s not us trying to be snarky — health experts agree right now that they just don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to Coronavirus and animals).
Even worse, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is calling the adoption program “Pandemic Partners,” suggesting that a pet is the perfect partner for a pandemic. Every year, news media is encouraged to report stories suggesting that adopting a pet without careful thought and consideration is an extremely bad idea. Why a Palm Beach County agency would suggest that adopting a pet merely to be your “Pandemic Partner” is unclear.
We’ve reached out the Palm Beach County Commission to learn if official there knew of the press release. We also reached out to Animal Care and Control but have not received a response.
Here is the response received Friday night via email:
First, let me assure you that we are not placing potential adopters at risk. The purpose of on-line adoptions are to limit or minimize exposure to my staff or the public. However, if a potential adopter feels strongly about visiting with a dog, we have an outside area where that is allowed for a very short period of time. During those cases, my staff must wear full Personal Protective Equipment and maintain a specified distance from the public. Keep in mind that on-line adoptions not only help place a pet into a home during this most difficult time, but it keeps my staff healthier so that they can continue to take care of the animals currently in our care and those continuing to be brought into the shelter. In fact, Animal Care and Control is designated as an essential agency in Palm Beach County and our mission is “to protect the people and the animals”. We are not violating any Executive Order and are, in fact, finding ways to help the animals in our care find good homes. We investigate animal cruelty and protect the people in our County by continuing to handle animal to human bites, rabies quarantines, and Dangerous or Vicious Dog Investigations. All while working diligently to do everything possible to create a safe working environment for employees considered “essential”.
You are correct that adopting a pet should be given considerable thought. Under normal circumstances, an adopter would come to the shelter and attempt to figure out who, among the hundreds of animals, they might want. At this time however, we cannot allow any visitors inside our building or our kennels. The on-line adoption application is reviewed by staff assigned to this task and prior to calling the potential adopter, a background search is done in our database to assure that the person has no negative history with our agency. Once that is accomplished, the potential adopter is called for a discussion about the dog or cat that they have listed on their application. If our staff and the potential adopter are comfortable that this is a good match, then the adoption is finalized. The additional incentives offered for handling the application process on-line also gives the adopter enough pet food for a three-week period and enough heartworm and flea preventative for three months. All aimed at keeping the adopter from having to do anything but drive home.
I also want to point out that breeders sell puppies on-line regularly. The end consumer knows little about the health of the animal and with the USDA website continuing to be unavailable, consumers are unable to know whether or not the breeder has violations that would indicate inhumane conditions. I am personally opposed to this type of transaction because of the lack of transparency. What we are trying to do is facilitate adoptions during a time when animals that we are familiar with most need a home. It is important that our shelter maintain a low population in preparation that we may soon have an influx of animals from people being hospitalized with COVID-19. This may not be a perfect answer, but it is certainly worth a try.