One particular ripple from the decision by the Board of County Commissioners to suspend non-essential operations for 30 days will be felt by the county’s four-legged residents.


One of those non-essential operations will be animal control and the county’s lone animal control officer, who for the next 30 days will only respond in the case of bites or severe medical cases.


That puts a considerable burden on the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society and in turn the humane society is reaching out to the community for an extra shoulder.


“This is a temporary situation that we desperately need (the public’s) help with,” said Caitlin Godwin, adoption coordinator at the SJBHS.


“Our shelter is completely full and adoptions are likely going to be low during this pandemic. We are a no-kill shelter and do not euthanize animals for space.”


Here is where an extended public hand is needed.


In the coming weeks, contact the humane society at 227-1103 in the event of finding a healthy, stray animal.


The goal is reunification with owners, so provide a location where the animal was found, a description of the animal and send a photo to the humane society Facebook page or info@sjbhumanesociety.org.


And, where possible, consider caring for the pet until the owner is located.


“We ask that all families that are able to house the animal temporarily, providing food and water as we look for the owners,” Godwin said. “We will be looking in conjunction with the families to reunite.


“We can provide food, kennels and supplies so that no one will be responsible for the costs relating to caring for the pet. If you can help by housing a stray animal until the owner is found, we are so appreciative.”


Caring for strays temporarily will allow the humane shelter to better focus on animals already in the shelter.


With the shelter at capacity and new animals arriving daily, the humane society anticipates a “huge downturn” in adoptions during the coronavirus outbreak, Godwin said, adding there is a desperate need for foster homes.


“Fostering is absolutely free,” Godwin said. “We provide all supplies and medical care for the pet throughout their stay.


“Fostering an animal not only provides that animal with a safe place to rest, but also frees up a kennel for a new animal to come in.”


All animals eligible to be fostered have been spayed/neutered, underwent a behavioral evaluation, are up-to-date on vaccines and were checked for illness before going to a foster home, Godwin said.


“We need families to commit to a minimum of two weeks to keep the pet,” Godwin said. “We have puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs available for foster.


“We provide resources and training materials as well to equip our foster families.”


Fosters can sign up by visiting https://www.sjbhumanesociety.org/fostering and clicking on the "Foster Application" button to get started.


The humane society will contact eligible applicants to set up an appointment to choose a foster animal.


In the case of a finding a severely injured, dangerous animal or if bitten by animal call county dispatch at 227-1115 to submit a report and dispatchers will determine if the situation is an emergency that requires animal control.