Maddie Aicher, volunteer coordinator petting a cat at Animal Friends Shelter in Pittsburgh, PA (photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Caring for animals is a hands-on task. The pandemic has upended operations (and fundraising) for Pittsburgh-area shelters.

Animals aren’t at a great risk for COVID-19, but the pandemic has upended care at local shelters.  

As businesses shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new challenge arose for Pittsburgh’s Animal Friends shelter. With more than 200 cats, dogs and other animals all on-site, Animal Friends couldn’t just shut their doors. 

Instead, shelter staff sprung into action. And over the next nine months, the shelter created solutions to continue providing essential care to the animals safely amid the pandemic. Those included partnering with foster homes to house the animals, virtual fundraisers and limiting foot traffic at their campus — among other precautions. “We limited the number of people in the building and implemented a team schedule among staff,” said Cody Hoellerman, chief community engagement officer at Animal Friends.

Superintendent James Harris of the Woodland Hills School District stands in front of a row of blue lockers.

Calm without police: Woodland Hills’ superintendent explains how the district boosted supports and phased out law enforcement.

Due to the pandemic, students at Woodland Hills are partially in school for in-person instruction, but Superintendent James Harris describes the positive change he’s seen since they started reducing, and finally eliminating police from school. Harris spoke with PublicSource to discuss how the atmosphere has changed and how this idea can be considered in other districts.