Pandemic Puppies and Resource-Strapped Shelters

Photo: Provided by the Baltimore Humane Society

Everyone wants a pandemic puppy, but animal shelters have struggled in the past few months with reduced revenue and new restrictions on volunteer hours.

One of the biggest services to take a hit from COVID-19? Pet food banks that provide food and supplies to owners in crisis. The banks run on donations, which have unfortunately dried up since the pandemic started, and the organizations’ main fundraising events have either been cancelled or postponed.

“We’ve lost about $200,000 in fundraising,” says Kate Pika, Baltimore Humane Society’s marketing and public relations director.  “There’s a lot of corporations and organizations that typically give out grants but they’re also struggling so they can’t do that right now.”

Read about other ways that shelters cope in the pandemic.

Yet people are in need, especially now that money is tight. BHS has seen a 40 percent rise in the number of people asking for assistance on a monthly basis.

“It’s been a life saver to people who are struggling financially, especially right now, but it’s also the one that’s been impacted the most,” Pika says.

In response to the higher need for supplies, the Maryland SPCA has ramped up their food pantry and, since March, have helped just under 4,000 family pets, as well as around 1,400 community cats. They hope people will continue to donate so that they can help even more.


Helping Pets Stay Home

“Our main goal is to keep pets out of shelters, so we’re constantly trying to figure out ways to help owners keep their pets,” says Jim Peirce, the executive director at the Maryland SPCA.

Pika points out that having a pet at home can be a lifesaver for people. “The pandemic has brought a lot of mental issues with it, so people could really use the emotional support that a pet brings, especially if they don’t have family around them.”

Both organizations understand the financial hardships that everyone is under, but they encourage people to donate or adopt if they can, and get in touch if they need assistance.

“We know there’s a lot of suffering going on, so give what you can and support your local shelter,” Peirce says.

“Even if it’s just $5-10 a month, or if you have extra supplies or a bag of food your pet won’t eat, please drop it off,” Pika says.

Photo:Photo: Hank, a Baltimore Humane Society volunteer, loads donations into their food bank/Provided by the Baltimore Humane Society.

How to help

Check out the Baltimore Animal Welfare Alliance (BAWA), a collection of animal rescue, care, and shelter organizations that work together to save animal’s lives. Stay up-to-date with events and fundraising opportunities by following them on Facebook @BAWAbaltimore.


Support the Maryland SPCA by participating in their Festival for the Animals, a virtual 5k event running from Sept. 9-26. Participants are asked to take 3,000 steps a day, which represents every pet adopted annually. The goal for the event is to walk 650 miles altogether, with each mile unlocking $100 in donations from sponsors for a grand total of $65,000. So grab a leash or a ball and get those steps in with your furry friend. Don’t forget to take some fun pics for the Festival Tails photo contest on Facebook. To sign up or donate, click here.


To donate to the Maryland SPCA, or drop off a gift in person visit their website here.

To request assistance from their food pantry, click here.

Get donation ideas and donate to their wish list, click here.

Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @mdspca.


Baltimore Humane Society’s Annual Pet Memorial Sunday has been changed to a virtual ceremony on Sept. 13. To register, click here.

To donate to the Baltimore Humane Society, visit their website here. You can also drop off donations in person 7 days a week, Mondays 12-4 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Donate from their Amazon wish list, here.

If you are a pet owner who needs assistance, call to make an appointment at 410-833-8848 ext. 2.


Check out their social media for events and future volunteer opportunities @bmorehumane on Instagram and @BMOREHUMANE on Facebook.

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