As people grab their facemasks and plan their lives around social distancing guidelines, the animals at Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries in Tioga are adapting to life in the pandemic as the staff and volunteers work to meet animal needs.

“We are closed to the public and only volunteers who are tending to essential needs of the animals are coming to the facility,” Sue Cook, a volunteer at the sanctuary said through Facebook messenger.

Though the sanctuary has limited social interaction, Cook said, “We are trying to socialize the animals as much as possible due to the lack of visitors.” In fact, all of the volunteers at the shelter have stayed on their regular schedule and have provided the animals with necessary care, said Laura Clarson, animal care coordinator at Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries.

Additionally, the facility is taking steps to help provide a home for new strays and others in need of care by moving some of the dogs to foster care. But space for new arrivals will become a greater challenge the longer the shutdown continues as veterinarians with whom the sanctuary works are not currently doing spays and neuters.

“Under normal circumstances, we don’t do fostering unless there are behavioral problems at the shelter,” said Clarson. “But because everything is weird right now, dogs who are waiting to be fixed are being sent out to foster homes.”

The individuals willing to foster dogs have to go through an application process and be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Fostering cats is more difficult, due to required vaccinations upon returning to the shelter. Thus, Second Chance is holding more cats and allowing dogs to be fostered.

While the shelter currently has 26 animals at the facility and another nine in foster care, Clarson is concerned about the potential impact the virus could have on cat populations in particular.

“This is the time of year when people get their animals fixed. So, we are having a lot of people contact us, but I can’t direct them to a vet because (spay and neuter surgeries are) not happening right now,” Clarson said. “I’m definitely worried that we are going to see an increase in the number of litters.”

The economic difficulties, due to COVID-19, are also being felt at the shelter. Clarson said there has been a lack of monetary donations with so many people out of work and an increase in requests for veterinarian assistance.

As stay at home orders for Pennsylvania have been extended to May 8, Clarson said the staff and volunteers at the shelter are still working on plans for reopening.

“We will follow all the recommendations,” Clarson said. “We want to keep the public and our volunteers safe.”

For more information about Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries visit https://secondchanceas.org or find it on Facebook @secondchancetiogapa.