Winnipeg no-kill shelters struggling through COVID-19 crisis, say donations needed

As businesses across the city close their doors to help stop the spread of COVID-19, organizations that take in and care for animals are scrambling to continue their work during the ongoing outbreak.

But without help, two Winnipeg no-kill shelters say they’re worried they may be forced to close.

“Every day things are closing, things are closing — but we have to be here,” said D’Arcy Johnston, owner and operator of D’Arcy’s A.R.C., whose non-profit shelter currently has roughly 130 animals in care.

But with a marked decrease in business at his retail location — which helps cover the costs of the rescue — and a drop in both food and money donations, Johnston worries about how long he can keep going.

D’Arcy said he’s considering laying off staff and has had to stop taking in new fosters and to make matters worse, he says adoptions have dropped off too.

He said he hadn’t had any animals adopted last week when normally the shelter sees two or three a day.

“I don’t want to max out at 180 or 200 animals at this facility and not have the staff to look after them,” he said.

“I can’t fill up the building without having the money for medical bills and treatment.”

While donations have also dropped off at Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter, founder and executive director Carla Martinelli-Irvine said they’re still accepting fosters during the crisis.

“We have to, they need us, that’s what we’re here for,” she said, adding there’s currently a waiting list for spot sat the no-kill shelter, but they did do a couple of adoptions last week.

“I look at it from an animal’s point of view and pain is pain and suffering is suffering,” she said.

“They’ll die, a lot of these animals will die without us.”

‘The costs are enormous’

With spring around the corner — a time both shelters normally see an influx of kittens — Martinelli-Irvine and D’Arcy say they’re desperately hoping to see donations pick up again.

“Everybody loves the concept of no-kill, but the costs are enormous,” she said.

D’Arcy said he’s keeping his retail store at 730B Century Street open as long as he can — with expanded cleaning practices in place — and this weekend he started a delivery service so customers can have orders dropped off at their home.

Donations and orders can be placed through the D’Arcy’s A.R.C. website.

Donations can also be made to Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter through their website.

Martinelli-Irvine said donations of things like food, cat litter, and hand sanitizer can be dropped off at Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelterer at 3062 Portage Avenue.

“Everybody is scared, and myself included — I’m scared for the shelter,” said Martinelli-Irvine.

“But we’re going to keep doing what we do until we just can’t do it anymore.”

Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Humane Society continues to adopt animals, although it has closed its doors to the public. Adoptions are available by calling 204-982-2035 for an appointment.

On its website, the WHS says it has seen an “outpouring of support” for foster applications, with hundreds of applications received during the crisis.

The WHS says animal emergencies can still be reported by calling 204-982-2020 and animal welfare concerns should be reported to 204-982-2028.

Donations bins have also been set up outside the WHS at 45 Hurst Way for things like pet food, treats and bedding donations.

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