Animal Welfare

Staffing Shortage Hits Dallas Animal Shelter, Forcing Temporary Closure on Thursdays

Pets find life in a shelter stressful after living in a home.
Pets find life in a shelter stressful after living in a home. Mike Brooks
The pandemic has been particularly rough on animal shelters. North Texas shelters have seen an increase in abandoned animals.

Dallas Animal Services has filled up periodically and asked the public for help in getting animals adopted. Just a couple of months ago, the animal shelter was hit by an uptick in distemper and other upper respiratory diseases.

Now, facing staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic, Dallas Animal Services says it's forced to temporarily close on Thursdays.

“For your awareness, due to ongoing staffing deficiencies caused by the national workforce shortage as well as the rise staff illness due to COVID-19, Dallas Animal Services (DAS) will be closing its shelter to the public on Thursdays until further notice,” Assistant City Manager Joe Zapata said in a memo last week.

The temporary change will allow the shelter to adjust schedules and maintain service throughout the city during the rest of the week.

“Despite the closure, our daily care and support will continue for shelter animals, and pet owners looking to reclaim their lost pets will be able to call the pet support desk to complete the reclaim process,” Zapata’s memo said.

The Dallas Animal Services Field Team will continue to provide services throughout the city seven days a week to “ensure public safety,” Zapata said. But residents should expect longer wait times, especially for lower priority calls, until the staffing issues are resolved.

Starting this week, the Dallas shelter will be open to the public and offering online adoptions from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and on Friday and 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday.

Arlington Animal Services saw similar staffing shortages in recent weeks. A staffing shortage at the Arlington shelter forced staff to turn away new animals. The city was instructing residents to consider fostering stray animals they found. Euthanasia requests were also directed to private vets, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, staffing shortages caused to the surge in omicron cases have similarly hit schools, hospitals, fire departments and police departments.

But Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser for the pandemic, told ABC this weekend that he expects omicron cases to peak in the next month or so. “What we would hope is that, as we get into the next weeks to month or so, we’ll see throughout the entire country the level of infection get to below what I call that area of control,” Fauci said.

Infections will continue, but they will be more manageable. “They’re there but they don’t disrupt society,” he said. “That’s the best case scenario.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn