While employees keep a safe social distance from one another, they can still get close and personal with the cats and dogs to give them the love and attention they need.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the show must go on for the Siskiyou Humane Society. After all, the cats and dogs at the shelter are relying on them to help them find good homes, as well as provide other vital services to Siskiyou County.

The shelter, located in Mount Shasta, is currently open to the public by appointment only for those seriously interested in adopting an animal. Taking care of the animals continues at the facility thanks to dedicated workers who are making sure the shelter continues its critical role in the community.

While employees keep a safe social distance from one another, they can still get close and personal with the cats and dogs to give them the love and attention they need.

The shelter has had to reduce its staff due to the pandemic. Typically, the shelter would have seven employees working on any given day. That number is now down to around four.

Siskiyou Humane Society shelter manager Kim Latos said animal adoptions are still happening and they still provide emergency intake assistance for the community.

Currently, both of the Humane Society’s thrift stores in Mount Shasta and Yreka are closed.

“Due to the closure of our stores, we have no income at this time,” Latos said. “Our monthly expenses have always exceeded our income. Now, we are taking a heavy hit.”

Latos said that the shelter does not receive any funding from the government or national organizations, including from the Humane Society of the United States of the ASPCA. Besides the funds made from the thrift stores, funds to run the shelter also come from private donations and bequests, and the occasional small grant for specific programs.

Current needs include monetary donations to help with operating expenses. The shelter also needs Diamond Naturals brand dog and cat food, training treats for dogs, toys for cats and dogs, and cleaning supplies.

To help the Siskiyou Humane Society in their time of need, call them at (530) 926-4052. You can also check their website to see the animals currently up for adoption and for more information about the shelter at www.siskiyouhumane.org.

Despite COVID-19 and all that means for humans, there were still plenty of animals who needed attention on Thursday.

A beautiful and friendly tortoiseshell momma cat was brought into the shelter with her four 4 day-old kittens. As the proud momma greeted visitors and proudly circled her babies: two orange kittens, a black and white kitten, and a white kitten, Latos looked them over, impressed with how healthy they were.

The momma cat was found on a property in Weed, Latos explained. A man set up space in a trailer for the mother cat to give birth but could not keep her and her kittens long term because his dogs aren’t too keen on the new cats.

“They are so cute,” said Latos as she lovingly picked up and looked over each kitten and petted the mother.

The cats were picked up later that day by a foster family and they’ll eventually be put up for adoption.

Siskiyou Humane Society shelter receptionist Tyler Dibelka has been doing several different duties over the past several weeks, helping out where needed. “It’s been surreal with everything that has been going on,” Dibelka said.

One of his most vital duties is continually updating the humane society’s website with photos and videos of animals up for adoption. “It’s been great getting out as much information available for people online as possible,” Dibelka said. “We’re doing what we can to serve the animals best.”

“We are doing everything we can according to industry standards and recommendations,” Latos said. “We receive daily updates from the leading shelter experts and organizations.”

Shelter employees are also viewing scheduled webinars related to COVID-19 and shelter operations the past two weeks, Latos said on Thursday.

Due to staffing shortages, “COVID-19 carries the possibility of creating a significant animal welfare crisis,” said Latos. If an employee of the shelter were to have COVID-19, “then everyone goes into quartine.”

To ensure that work to care for animals could continue of something like this happens, a number of staff are not working, Latos explained.d

While no one has yet turned in an animal because of fear of getting COVID-19 from it, Latos emphasized that at this point, “there is no evidence that ... animals can be a source of infection to humans or animals.”

“One of our biggest challenges is ... not being able to spay and neuter animals,” Latos said, since the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommended limiting non-essential or elective surgeries. “Veterinary medicine is part of the overall health care umbrella we have in the United States,” Latos said.

Deb Freeman, training/behavior program assistant at the shelter, has been busy walking the dogs housed at the facility. She is also making sure they receive the care and attention, both physically and emotionally. She said being around the dogs has been helpful during this stressful time.

“I feel so grateful I’m still able to do this job and come here and work with the dogs,” Freeman said about her essential role in the community.

People adopting cats and dogs have been steady in the past several weeks, with more people adopting animals to have company during the pandemic, Latos said.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries and animals being adopted, which is phenomenal,” she said. Due to adoptions and a number of families fostering animals, there were fewer cats and dogs housed at the shelter than usual on Thursday.

Latos added they are still looking for people to foster kittens and cats with prime kitten season coming up, coronavirus or no coronavirus.

If you’re interested in fostering, the shelter will review their information and will call once they find a good match. Potential fosters can complete the application and counseling by phone. Then the shelter will schedule a curbside pick-up of the foster pets.

SHS is located at 1208 N. Mt Shasta Blvd. in Mount Shasta.