The Clatsop County animal shelter experienced a rare population dip after the coronavirus pandemic caused shutdowns in March. They were part of a national trend.

“When things started close down, people took dogs home and 90% of those animals were adopted,” Natalie Hannam, a Seaside resident, volunteer and Clatsop Animal Assistance vice president, confirmed. “We were thrilled because we’re so used to the heavy lifting of caring for so many animals.”

That trend is shifting, she said, with pets at the shelter rising to pre-COVID levels, with a population of about 25 dogs and 30 cats.

Clatsop Animal Assistance pays for veterinary care — up to $85,000 a year overall — and medicines that aren’t covered in the shelter’s budget, as well as supporting the shelter’s adoption program, including social media and live events.

“The county allows us into the shelter to help improve the lives of the animals that are in the care of the county,” Hannam said.

Working in conjunction with the county’s staff members and kennel workers, volunteers arrive after 10:30 a.m., walking, feeding and pet adoptions, which includes an application, counseling and home inspection.

“We really hunt for the right match,” she said. “We don’t want a dog returned to or a cat returned. We’re hoping for the right match the first time.”

Some visitors walk in and fall in love at first sight, while others take months of searching to meet just the right one.

This year, the shelter will hold its first electronic fundraiser as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Marcy Dunning, president of Clatsop Animal Assistance, told members of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce last week. “We wanted to come up with something that was fun for people but that would be virtual.”

The Pup Strut and Kitty Cuddle 2020 runs through the end of November, with the opportunity to share pet photos on social media. All pets are welcome.

Donors can create fundraising teams with family, friends, businesses or neighbors to support the animal shelter.

The shelter is always looking for volunteers, including dog-walkers, drivers, people to work in the cat room or feed animals in the late afternoon, Hannam said.

Videographers and people to assist on the website are also welcome. “If you’ve got a talent, come help.” Hannam said.

To adopt, visit PetFinder.com, the county website or the Clatsop Animal Assistance webpage, dogsncats.org. Fill out the application and make an appointment to meet the pet at the shelter.

“You can always change your mind once you’re in there,” Dunning said.

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