With no people around, it can be lonely inside animal shelters

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Exterior of a one-story brick building

Madison Norfleet

Inside the animal shelter, a lack of visitors on snow days can confuse the animals, especially the cats, which see more people than the dogs.

With many businesses closed due to the snowstorm on Wednesday, the Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter was no exception. The shelter was not open to the public for all of Wednesday. The animals were inside the shelter not knowing what was happening in the outside world.

“When I think about it I just get really sad. They don’t understand why they’re alone, and I can only imagine how lonely it can get for shelter animals” said Norene Bassin, owner of four animals. 

The Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter has cats by the lobby for anyone to walk in and see. However, the dogs are kept in a back area not accessible to the public. Julie Hill, community outreach manager for the Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter, explained that they are a fear-free shelter. They want to lower the amount of stress for the dogs by not having constant traffic in and out of their kennels. 

By keeping the dogs in a back area away from the public they may have not been affected by the lack of visitors. The cats, on the other hand, usually get a good amount of visitors, meaning a lack of traffic could cause them to feel lonely.

Reese Corey, owner of one animal, said, “I’ve honestly never thought of it but considering that most have been abandoned at one point or another, they must be so scared and depressed.”

Shelter employees stated said the dogs are taken on walks every day and that employees will interact with the cats. They never want the animals to feel neglected or alone.

The snowstorm brought up many questions about the condition of the animals. If the shelter wasn’t open to the public were employees still going in? Were the animals still getting the love and care they needed?

Corey felt concerned about the animals’ well being during a major snowstorm. “My feelings lean towards pity but I also have thoughts of how are they getting fed, given medicine, etc.”

Hill said that no matter what the weather looks like, “We still have animal care staff come in … they take them out, feed them.” 

The animals are their top priority, and they will make sure that they are loved and healthy. Hill said employees worked in overlapping shifts to make sure the animals were never alone.

Major weather events can be stressful times for pets causing them to run out, and neglectful owners might leave pets to perish in the conditions. According to the shelter’s website the county has six full-time animal control officers to protect citizens and animals. These officers will enforce laws against animal cruelty and search for runaway dogs or livestock.

Hill sad, “our officers were responding to emergencies till about 3 p.m., and after that they were moved over to the next day.” 

If you’re looking to adopt an animal or to foster, visit the Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter website.

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