Considering pets in times of uncertainty: A dog’s (and cat’s) life at GSHS, Part 2


The Good Shepherd Humane Shelter will remain open during regular hours for adoptions and fostering although several adjustments have been made to accommodate COVID 19 pandemic cautions.

In spite of necessary changes, the shelter is on track for a second month in a row of record adoptions. “But that could all come to a halt at any moment,” Cole Wakefield, director of Animal Operations, said.

“Meanwhile, this is a great time to adopt a pet, with plenty of opportunity to be home and help the adjustment. And we always want to remind people that the CDC has found no evidence that pets are at risk for catching or transmitting the virus,” he added.

For now, adoptions will no longer include walk-throughs. Instead, potential pet matches will be brought to the front lobby to be introduced. Before going to the shelter, searching pictures and info at (click on “Dogs” or “Cats”) will help identify the pets one might like to see in person. Or, call (479) 253-9188 to make sure an animal is still available.

Staffing has been adjusted to a staggered system reducing human cross-exposure while still providing continuity. All non-emergency animal intake has been halted to ensure there will be room for any possible surge of emergency cases, and so that remaining staff will not be overwhelmed if others have to stay home.

Emergency pet food

GSHS has partnered with Booze Bros. to provide an emergency pet food bank. According to Wakefield, “Anyone can go during normal hours and collect pet food at Booze Bros’ walk-up window. They will also be accepting product and monetary donations to help support the project. Pet food will be available to anyone who needs it, but we ask that only those in true need take advantage of it.”

The pet food bank giveaway planned in Berryville was close to happening just when people were asked not to gather in large groups, but will activate once the situation clears.

“We are currently holding on to the food that was slated to be given away as an emergency reserve for our area,” Wakefield said. “We will distribute it, if needed, in coordination with local emergency management. Once this crisis passes, we will try to get our Berryville pet food bank giveaway back on track. This is possible because of major donations from several companies and smaller donations from individuals. Our ability to do these [giveaways] will be based directly on our ability to procure additional donations.”

Once things clear up from the COVID-19 crisis, GSHS hopes to move ahead with plans to develop a robust assistance program with regular pet food banks in Carroll County.

What can we do right now?

Dog walkers are always needed to take an animal on a stroll and fosterers are welcome to take an animal for a couple of hours or a couple of nights.

Donations of anything a pet can use from dishes to bedding and food are always appreciated. The biggest need at the moment is kitty litter.

Adopt! A furbody companion might be just the thing to help an individual or family get through being confined to home due to the coronavirus epidemic. Besides some very adoptable dogs and puppies, there are healthy cats in the free-range Lighthouse for older cats, and the Bates Cat House where the rambunctious youngsters play and snooze. And adoption or fostering will enrich the life of an animal, too

“The shelter environment is not healthy for any animal,” Wakefield explained. “We do everything we can to mitigate the danger, but bottom-line there is always someplace better than the shelter.  Good Shepherd maintains clean, up-to-standard housing that exceeds most shelters in the state. However, no matter how good my staff and I are at our jobs the best thing we can do is get the cats and dogs out to good homes.

“There are sanctuaries with proper facilities and enrichment that can house homeless pets long term, but we are not equipped to do so, nor is it in our mission. The stress of kenneling – sounds, smells, strangers, confinement – can lead to deteriorating physical and mental health. Dogs can go mad over time. I’ve seen it. Shortening length-of-stay is one of the most important things we can do.”


  1. I was volunteering before this but am now in self quarantine for safety’ s sake. When this is over, I wasn’t to come back and be with your precious animals. This is a wonderful facility .
    Carol Roper

  2. Bless the amazing staff of the shelter, the hardworking board of directors and all the volunteers…what creative responses to a time of great anxiety and suffering for so many. Thanks for these articles about Good Shepherd….love reading them.

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