BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Any pet owner can tell you, it takes a lot to care for an animal and keep them healthy. At Kern County Animal Services, with the number of staff members dwindling due to COVID-19, they’re seeing the ripple effects impact the animals.
“Our volunteers were so involved in the day-to-day that we struggle to get the animals out of the kennels just to get them exercise,” said Nick Cullen, Director of Kern County Animal Services.
Many organizations and businesses are seeing a decline in their workforce due to rising cases of COVID-19. For organizations like KCAS, who for years relied not only on staff but volunteers, the pandemic has left them struggling.
“They helped in just about every area that you can imagine and the pandemic shut down most of our volunteer programs,” Cullen said. “At one point after the pandemic we had no volunteers, then we slowly started building up, had around 6 to 12.”
While the shelter has made it through the pandemic the latest surge has resulted in a bare-bones staff, a struggle for a shelter that’s used to ten times these numbers.
“We had upwards of 150 volunteers that would help us with everything,” Cullen said.
Volunteers offer the shelter help with everything any staff member would do. Most importantly though, they help make sure every animal in the shelter is able to get the care they need including socialization, exercise, training, and a stress outlet.
All things that in turn help the dogs in the shelter attract a forever home.
“We have about 10-20 active volunteers helping out with animal care but we could clearly do with ten times that amount,” said Cullen.
In order to attract more volunteers to the shelter, they’re holding an open house. During this time, the shelter will provide information about volunteering, tours, and even give orientations to those who have already made up their mind to volunteer.
The open house is taking place this upcoming Saturday at the shelter on Fruitvale Avenue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For any questions, you can call the shelter at 868-7100.