The coronavirus pandemic has been truly tragic for human beings, however, for cats and dogs in Guilford County, the opposite is true.

One side effect of the fear of catching the disease is that people have been spending much more time with their pets, and, in many cases, walking those pets several times a day.

Another side effect is that many more people have been adopting and fostering animals from the Guilford County Animal Shelter, which has greatly reduced the shelter’s animal population.

At the start of the pandemic, the reduction in shelter numbers was amazing, and, while the current shelter numbers aren’t currently as depressed as they were at the start of the pandemic, it’s clear that the numbers are being kept much lower than in the past.

At the end of the day on Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Animal Shelter had a total of 139 animals – 73 dogs and 66 cats. Last year at this time, the shelter was housing 186 dogs and 207 cats, for a total of 393 animals.

At times, in past years, the shelter has held over its rated capacity of 607 animals.

The lower numbers are something of a relief since Guilford County is currently in the process of building a new animal shelter that has a lower rated capacity than the existing shelter on West Wendover Avenue. The pandemic will end one day, however, county leaders are confident that overhauled practices at Guilford County Animal Services will help keep the population at the new shelter under capacity.

The new shelter is also designed in a way that will make it relatively easy to expand.

While the current numbers are encouraging, they’re still higher than earlier this year right after the start of the pandemic. At one Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ work session in the spring, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing informed the commissioners that there were only three cats and three dogs being held at the shelter at that time.