BURLINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic has brought plenty of changes — and more than enough challenges — to the Humane Society of Skagit Valley, but the organization is continuing to place cats, dogs and other small animals to those who want a furry friend.

The organization, which was founded in 1974 to provide shelter for abandoned, abused or unwanted animals, has been going through a challenging time, said Executive Director Janine Ceja.

“Like everyone, we too have been hit with this pandemic in all aspects,” she said.

The organization has limited its hours, and made its shelter available to the public on an appointment-only basis, she said. Despite the changes, adoptions have been robust, especially with the organization’s partnership with PetSmart in Burlington.

In May, of the 123 dogs and cats to come in, 76 were adopted, and many of the remaining 47 remained only because they were too young to be adopted.

In an example comparing this year with last, August 2019 had 110 of 207 animals adopted and 28 reunited with owners, and this August, 114 of 147 were adopted and 14 were reunited with owners.

All in all, Ceja said, adoptions are down about 13% compared to last year. She expected a more severe drop when the pandemic began to take hold last spring.

“I was expecting a 33 to 40 percent drop in adoptions,” she said.

COVID-19 has had an impact throughout the pet community, Ceja said.

With some veterinary clinics closing their doors or limiting hours, it’s made it a challenge to get an appointment. And with spay and neuter procedures curtailed because they were designated as non-essential, Ceja said that may lead to a glut of pets in need of adoption.

“It will be interesting to see how that affects next year,” she said.

As for this year, Ceja said people in the animal care community are working hard in a tough time.

She and Humane Society staff counsel pet owners over the phone about challenges, including behavioral problems. Staff have also worked with other Humane Society branches, even taking in animals from shelters if they’re at risk of being euthanized.

Ceja said the Humane Society is among the organizations that’s here to help people — and animals — get through the pandemic.

“We’ve been going nonstop,” she said.

Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156, tpyle@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/bytrevorpyle

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