It’s a statewide as well as national phenomenon.

People who snapped up pets at animal shelters during the pandemic are going back to work and giving up those pets and that’s led to overcrowding at Guilford County’s animal shelter and at other shelters around the country.  Now Guilford County Animal Services is introducing a new program called “Stray to Foster” to help address the large number of strays and surrenders coming into the new facility officially known as the Guilford County Animal Resource Center.

The new program is seeking animal lovers willing to foster stray and surrendered shelter pets for 72 hours.

The shelter is also extending its hours for pet adoptions.

Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega stated, in a Wednesday, Oct. 12 press release announcing the new initiative, that help is very badly needed at this point.

“We need our community to step forward to help support the overwhelming number of pets flowing into our Resource Center every day,” Ortega said. “We cannot adopt our animals out fast enough and that forces us to make very difficult choices about the lives of the animals in our care.  Our hope is that by offering a 72-hour foster program as well as extending our hours for pet adoptions, our community will join us in offering life-saving care to these pets.”

According to county officials, the new program and expanded shelter hours are meant to prevent euthanasia due to space limitations. When the shelter reaches “critical capacity,”  staff “must make the difficult choice to euthanize pets for space when adoptive and foster homes are unavailable.”

Participants in the Stray to Foster program will care for an animal for three days and will also “be advocates for the animals” during that time. That is, the county is asking program participants to post pictures and information on lost pet websites and on social media sites.

Those who foster animals will be provided with crates, food, blankets, and food bowls. Residents interested in becoming a “Stray to Foster” family should contact the Resource Center at 336-641-3400.

Also, the shelter will now be open on Mondays from noon to 4 p.m. for adoptions and will offer extended hours on Saturdays – from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.  The shelter will now be open six days a week – Wednesday through Monday – with Tuesday being the only day the center is closed for adoptions.