Kern County Animal shelters are closing to the public due to coronavirus and that has created a dilemma.
"We rely on the public to adopt. When we don't have that avenue we're left with no option to get animals out of the shelter. It's not healthy to have an animal sit in a cage for 30 days," said Nick Cullen, director of Kern County Animal Services.
Animal shelters are also feeling the pinch as life alters for nearly everyone during the coronavirus pandemic. Adoption events are being canceled and some shelters are closing to the public and reducing staff to avoid possible spread of the virus between staff.
So on a whim, Kern County Animal Services put out a call on social media for emergency foster homes and announced a drive-thru pickup event on Tuesday.
The response was incredible, Cullen said.
By the end of Wednesday, 88 pets had been put in temporary homes, the agency said on Facebook. It's planning to bring in dogs and cats from its Mojave and Lake Isabella shelters Wednesday and are looking for additional foster families.
"What we've seen from the community is like nothing we've seen before," he said. "We're floored with the response."
Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday a steady stream of cars pulled up to the shelter awaiting their foster pets. Shelter workers could be seen walking dogs out to the vehicles and handing over bags of food and crates to people who were taking the dogs in.
As a spunky, rust-colored dog hopped into a woman's minivan, shrieks of joy could be heard from her children inside.
"We're going to do this as long as we need it," Cullen said.
As of Wednesday, the Bakersfield SPCA shelter remained open to the public.
The county shelter's drive-thru will operate again Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.