For likely the first time, visitors to Long Beach Animal Care Services can place their fingers in most of the kennels without consequences. Of course, there aren’t any visitors to the shelter since it’s been closed down for about a month, and the shelter is now relatively empty. It felt eerie to see all the vacant kennels last week when we went in to interview Animal Control field director Lt. David Linn and shelter manager Staycee Dains, the few remaining cold noses and echoing barks make the vacancies even more conspicuous.

Animal Control’s David Linn, shelter director Staycee Dains talk animal welfare during and after coronavirus

Dains doesn’t seem to feel any sense of desolation, far from it. She’s grateful to Live Love Animal Rescue, The Little Lion Foundation and Helen Sanders CatPAWS for finding foster homes for nearly 200 healthy animals. The rescues find fosters or adoptions for the healthy ones or medical fosters for animals that have issues that can be met outside the shelter. The few that remain at the shelter now receive more individual attention than during normal conditions.

Animal Control functions as the City intake bureau, and so the shelter will be relatively empty during the pandemic period. There will, sadly, always be abandoned, straying, dumped, overbred and otherwise unwanted animals, and there are also people who’ll bring them in because they’ve come to the ends of their financial ropes and see no other solution.

You can support the shelter or any of the rescues or ask to foster a pet by clicking on their names in the article. Remember to spay or neuter your own pet—that helps, too.