HSSM’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Contingency Plan and Large Dog Capacity Crisis

Gulfport, MS (03/17/2020)–The Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) is closely monitoring and evaluating the recent Coronavirus/COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. HSSM is taking measures to protect the health and well being of all pets and staff/volunteers in their care and following protocol provided by national organizations as it relates to the planning, preparedness and response to the COVID-19 situation. HSSM has developed an internal work plan for staff that is based on the recommended practices of the Centers of Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health and it is the intent of HSSM to provide as many services as safely possible and to minimize interruptions. A complete copy of HSSM’s contingency plan can be found by visiting:www.hssm.org.

As it relates to HSSM operations, they are limiting services to critical cases only for intake, scheduling appointments in all departments and putting new protocols in place effective immediately until March 31stwith potential extension pending further information from health officials. HSSM’s Barkin’ Basement is closed until further notice and all departments will be limiting the amount of people into the shelter at a time. Adoptions will continue and Animal Control Officers will continue to answer high priority and emergency calls, including injured, sick and stray animals that desperately need care. For now, HSSM is asking owners who are not facing an immediate crisis to hold off on surrendering healthy pets for up to four-six weeks.

The health and safety of all pets, staff/volunteers and the community is HSSM’s top priority. According to the World Health Organization, there is "no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread the coronavirus". HSSM’s main concern at this time as an open-admission shelter is that if they were in a situation where the doors had to close to the public and they were not capable of adopting animals out, they would not be able to keep from taking animals in which would put them in a bottleneck position and they simply cannot keep from taking animals in that desperately need their care.

In addition, HSSM will be hosting an adoption special for ALL large dogs (35lbs. & up) in hopes of expediting adoptions and relieving shelter space. HSSM is currently at max capacity with large dogs and experiencing a “Large Dog Capacity Crisis”. They are offering $7 tag fee adoptions for dogs located in blue, red and yellow pods now until the end of March. This special is in response to unprecedented circumstances regarding COVID-19. HSSM is also in need of emergency foster homes for large dogs at this time. HSSM is requesting the public to foster large dogs for four to six weeks to open up space in the shelter for critical surrender/stray cases to come in. Appointments can be scheduled by contacting the foster department atfoster@hssm.orgor 228-822-3828. 

HSSM is urging all pet owners to take advantage of this time spent at home training your pets, exercising/playing with them in the yard and just enjoy spending quality time with them. HSSM would also like to point out that this is the perfect time to adopt a new pet into your family as people should have additional time at home to get them acclimated into their new environment, work on potty training and to socialize them with their other pets at home.

If you cannot commit to adopting or fostering a large dog at this time, you can still support HSSM by making an online donation at: https://hssm.org/donate-today/ to assist them in purchasing much needed shelter and foster parent supplies.

About the Humane Society of South Mississippi

Established in 1955, The Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) is the largest animal welfare organization in the state of Mississippi. They are committed to ending pet over-population and homelessness and do so through their lifesaving programs such as aggressive spay/neuter efforts, progressive adoption programs, proactive pet identification campaigns, exhaustive return to owner efforts and innovative love train transports. They depend on the support and generosity of the community to provide the high quality services and compassion they are renowned for. HSSM is an open admissions shelter, which means they are the last resort for the most vulnerable pets of South MS. For more information, please visit:www.hssm.org.

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