COVID-19 Response

The Humane Society of Sarasota County is taking a “Humanely Possible” approach to the COVID-19 crisis. Our priorities are to continue to care for and find permanent homes for our shelter animals, to help our rescue partners and our community, and to keep providing lifesaving medical care to our clients. We know that we cannot do everything, but we are doing everything “Humanely Possible.” We have made it through the roughest patch (hopefully), and we're moving forward as safely as possible.We know this is a challenging time for the people and pets in our community. Thank you for your patience and support!
  • The shelter is open to the public again for normal adoption hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm and Saturday 10am–4pm. However, effective May 19, only 10 visitors are allowed in the facility at one time. People with appointments will be given priority over those without appointments. If there are more than 10 people inside, visitors will need to wait outside or in their vehicle until they can enter.
  • Appointments are required to view or adopt a cat, and appointments are strongly suggested to view or adopt a dog. Please call 941.955.4131 to make an appointment
  • We are still social distancing and maintaining rigorous sanitizing protocols. We strongly recommend visitors wear a mask.
  • View the real-time list of available cats and dogs.
  • We are intaking animals from others shelters, and we are accepting owner surrenders by appointment only. Apply here.
  • Our staff have adopted ways to keep our Animal Clinic operating safely so that people will have a place to take their pets for crucial care.
  • We have expanded the items provided in our weekly pet pantry so that no pet goes hungry.
  • We have been overwhelmed (in a good way!) by foster applications. We have more applicants than we have animals in need of foster, but that can change quickly. Apply here.
  • We are working to gradually reopen our volunteer program at the beginning of June and to resume K-9 Obedience Training Course in mid-June.
  • Scroll down to see a list of FAQs and other important program information.

Updates from HSSC Leadership

April 24, 2020


March 31, 2020

FAQs and Status of HSSC Programs & Services

Click the gray bars to expand each section and learn more about how individual HSSC programs and services are impacted by COVID-19. If you have adiditonal questions, please call 941.955.4131 or see our Contact Page for the specific staff member to contact.

Is HSSC still operating?
  • Animal shelters are considered essential services. We never stopped operating, but we were closed to the public March 22–April 30.
  • HSSC is open to the public again for normal adoption hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm and Saturday 10am–4pm. Effective May 19, only 10 visitors are allowed in the facility at once, and priority will be given to visitors with appointments.
  • Appointments are required to view or adopt a cat.
  • Appointments are strongly suggested to view or adopt a dog.
  • Call 941.955.4131 to make an appointment.
  • Our staff members are taking every precaution to maintain a safe social distance with potential adopters, fosters, and each other. We are adhering to rigorous cleaning and sanitizing protocols. We strongly suggest all visitors wear masks.
Is the Animal Clinic still open?
  • The Animal Clinic of HSSC is still open Monday–Friday 8am–5pm.
  • As of Saturday, May 16, the Clinic will be open again on Saturdays from 8am–12pm.
  • Walk-ins are not available at this time.
  • We are prioritizing the services we offer, with diagnostics, puppy/kitten vaccines, and scheduled urgent appointments taking precedence. However, we are scheduling wellness visits and surgeries. Please call us to schedule your pet's appointment or procedure: 941.364.3605.
  • We are working to reschedule all the appointments that were canceled at the onset of the pandemic. We appreciate your patience as we work to accomodate everyone in a timely fashion.
  • We are still operating curbside. Clients with appointments will need to call 941.364.3605 x302 when they arrive, then wait in their cars until a technician comes to get their pet for their visit. The pet will go inside, but the client must remain in their car. The doctor will do the exam and have the client on the phone to ask any questions they may have. At the end of the exam, the client will approve the estimate and pay with credit card, all over the phone. Then the tech will bring the pet and the receipt back to the client's car. No clients will be permitted in the building until further notice.
  • We are dispensing preventives and lifesaving medicines. Clients needing those must call and pay in advance, then pick up the meds using the phone check-in procedure.
  • Medications can also be purchased through our online pharmacy.
  • We have taken cues from other veterinary offices and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA) on best practices for minimizing patient interaction and for keeping a sanitary facility.
  • Please call the Animal Clinic directly if you have questions: 941.364.3605.
How can I help?
  • Thank you for your willingness to help! The top things you can do are adoptdonate supplies, and share our social media content.
Can I still adopt?
  • Thank you for considering adoption!
  • The shelter is open for visitors during operating hours (Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm and Saturday 10am–4pm). 
  • As of May 19, only 10 visitors are allowed in the facility at once.
  • We strongly suggest making an appointment, as people with appointments will be given priority over visitors without appointments. Call 941.955.4131 to make an appointment.
  • Every animal that is available for adoption is displayed on our real-time adoptable cats and dogs pages. New animals are added daily, so please check back often.
  • It is also a good idea to call first in case the animal you're interested in meeting is in a foster home, and thus not at the shelter. Setting up an appointment allows us to contact the foster and have them bring the animal to meet you at the appointed time.
Do you still need fosters?
  • We were fortunate to receive an outpouring of foster applications recently, and we placed dozens of animals in foster homes. 
  • If you have already applied but have not been matched, we will continue to keep your name on our list. We have more applications than animals in need of foster right now, but that may change. Visit our foster page to apply. You can also note that you will be ready to willing to help after the pandemic.
How long will I have my foster animal?
  • Fosters should be prepared to keep animals for at least two weeks and possibly as longer.
  • HSSC provides all the food, supplies, and medical care.
  • The foster volunteer will be responsible for bringing the pet to the shelter for any scheduled check-ups or procedures. 
  • If the foster animal is available for adoption, the foster is encouraged to share its information and help find a permanent adopter. Information should not be shared about animals that are not available for adoption yet.
  • We also love hearing from our fosters about how the animals behave in a home setting. Many animals are very different in a home than in a shelter, which can be very stressful for them. The information we receive from fosters goes a long way to helping us find the right furever home for the pet. 
Can I still volunteer?
  • We are planning to start allowing volunteers on campus beginning June 2, 2020. However, the total number of volunteers permitted at one time will be limited and not all volunteer roles are reopening at this time.
  • Returning volunteers must complete a reorientation session before they can sign up for shifts. This session will include a tour of the campus, as our facilities have changed drastically since March, and a presentation on the new policies, procedures, and roles. Mandy Ray will be providing instructions and dates for the reorientation sessions.
  • Once reoriented, volunteers will be required to sign up ahead of time in VolunteerHub for shifts. 
  • New volunteers who applied before the pandemic and have not completed orientation will receive instructions from Mandy Ray on when they can expect to begin their training.
What supplies do you need the most?
  • If you have extra pet food or cleaning supplies (see our Wish List), we are always grateful for donations. You can drop them off even if we're closed.
  • You can also shop from the comfort and safety of home using our Amazon Wish List.
  • We ask that people refrain from donating blankets and other large, fluffy items that cannot be sanitized immediately.
How can I make a monetary donation?
  • Thank you for your generosity during these tough economic times. It means so much to us!
  • The easiest (and most sanitary!) way to donate is via our secure online donation forms, like this one.
  • You can still make gifts in honor or memory of a person or pet, and you can set up recurring monthly gifts. If you have any questions about donating, please contact Autumn Steiner at 941.955.4131 x121.
What programs/services are open and what ones are canceled or suspended?
  • Adoptions, the Animal Clinic, and our Pet Pantry Program are operating in a modified capacity.
  • Our Volunteer and K-9 Obedience Training Programs are in the process of reopening.
  • Pet Therapy, Humane Education, Teen Club, and all offiste events are still canceled.
How are you helping other animal organizations?
  • We have slowly started to intake animals from other shelters.
  • We are continuously evaluating the needs of our community partners and deciding when and how we can safely take more animals.
What do I do if I need to surrender my pet?
  • We are accepting owner surrenders again, but, as always, we only take them by appointment only and an appointment does not guarantee acceptance into HSSC.
  • If you have questions about surrendering your dog, please contact Lisa Merlet or Kate Rose at 941.955.4131 x124. If you have questions about surrendering your cat, please call Suzanne Jones at 941.955.4131 x107, 
  • Our behaviorists are highly skilled at helping you determine the best course of action for your pet.
  • Please note that our current waitlist for appointments may be longer than usual due to operational changes.
What do I do if I find a stray?
  • HSSC is prohibited by a Sarasota County ordinance from intaking stray or unowned animals. This is not a COVID-19 prohibition; we are never permitted to accept strays.
  • If you have found a stray dog or cat, please contact Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services at 941.861.9500 or Manatee County Animal Services at 941.742.5933.
  • HSSC keeps a running list of lost and found animals that have been reported to us. You are welcome to add your lost/found animal’s information by calling 941.955.4131.
  • Social media is a tremendous resource. Lost and Found Pets 941 (Manatee & Sarasota) has a large membership and is a great forum for reporting lost/found pets.
Are you still accepting appointments for end of life services?
  • We are here for anyone making the difficult decision to say goodbye to a pet when euthanasia is the most humane choice.
  • End of life services are by appointment only.
  • Please call 941.955.4131 x112 for more information or to set up an appointment.
  • We promise to treat you and your pet with the utmost respect, professionalism, and compassion.
  • For safety reasons, only one family member may be in the room with the pet.
Are you still doing spay/neuter surgeries?
  • Because we have fewer animals in our care, we have been able to reduce the number of spay/neuter and other elective surgeries; however, all animals are spayed or neutered before adoption.
  • This reduction helps support efforts to conserve masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Our Animal Clinic has slowly started performing elective surgeries again.
Is the Pet Pantry Program still open on Wednesdays?
  • Yes, we decided to keep our food bank open at its usual time (Wednesdays from 10am–2pm) because we know that people are facing economic hardship at unprecedented levels. We do not want any pet to go hungry.
Can my pet get COVID-19?
  • Per the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA): Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).
  • Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
What is HSSC's plan going forward?
  • The safety of our staff and visitors is very important to us. In order to find permanent homes for our shelter animals, we have reopened to the public, but we are limiting the number of visitors. We will continue to monitor the situation and tweak our operations accordingly.
  • Construction is continuing on our renovation and expansion project.
  • We have taken action to secure donations from individuals, businesses, and grantors to offset our decreased program service revenue.
2331 15th Street | Sarasota, FL 34237 | 941.955.4131 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
1090 North Tuttle Ave | Sarasota, FL 34237 | 941.364.3605 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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