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SPCA receives COVID-19 relief grant

Because many animal shelters saw a decline in donations as the COIVD-19 pandemic wore on, the Rachael Ray Foundation sought to alleviate some of the financial stress for shelters through COVID-19-related grants.

The Pearl River County SPCA received a $2,000 Rachael Ray Save Them All COVID-19 relief grant from the Best Friends Animal Society. Pearl River County SPCA is part of the Best Friends Network. The network offers support and resources to fellow shelters and animal welfare groups.

The funds will be used by the shelter to relieve some of the financial stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With COVID-19, the ability for shelters to raise money to do their operations was going to be limited,” Judy Wheaton of Pearl River County SPCA said. “In fact we had seen a decline in our donations, which we understand.”

Wheaton said some of the grant money the shelter received was used to provide supplies to locals who are fostering shelter pets.

“That’s a big thing shelters have been doing with COVID-19 is getting as many animals out to foster homes as we can so we don’t have to tax our staff as much,” Wheaton said.

The grant money was also used to purchase essentials for the shelter such as food, vaccinations, milk for puppies and kittens and crates.

“The grant was to help us get the supplies we need to take care of our pets,” Wheaton said.

COVID-19 brought new challenges for the staff of the shelter.

Wheaton said there have been times the shelter was short-staffed.

“One of the challenges is trying to be safe and responsible,” Wheaton said. “We are keeping our lobby doors locked.”

Despite the doors being locked, the shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. by appointment. The shelter is asking people to make appointments before coming to ensure there is adequate space for social distancing.

“People are responding real well to our request to make appointments to come in and see our animals so that we can control the number of people in the facility,” Wheaton said. “We are making our staff wear masks when they are interfacing with people.”

Wheaton said a good way to support the shelter during this trying time is for people in the community to volunteer to foster if they are able.