LARGO, FL — It was almost eerie when Pinellas County Animal Services employees arrived to work Tuesday morning. There were no barks for attention, no rattling of cages by inhabitants eager for breakfast.

All the cages housing dogs at the Pinellas County Animal Services facility at 12450 Ulmerton Road in Largo were empty.

“That’s thanks to the community and the hard work of our volunteers and our staff,” said Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell. “For the first time in years at Pinellas County Animal Services, our dog adoption program is completely adopted out.”

Oddly enough, Brightwell attributes the high number of adoptions to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Scores of citizens have stepped up to adopt a new furry friend to keep them company as the county and state remain under a Safer-at-Home Order,” he said, noting that, under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order, pet adoption services are considered an essential business.

An increase in pet adoptions has been an unexpected benefit of stay-at-home orders across the country, according to national pet rescue organizations.

“During times of unprecedented crisis, we are reminded of the strength of the human-animal bond,” said Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “By fostering or adopting a pet, you can relieve stress on your local animal shelter and bring a source of solace and joy into your home.”

Ganzert said pets provide companionship during these difficult days of isolation. More than 80 percent of pet owners report that their furry friends make them feel less lonely, he said.

“This uncertain and stressful time is also a wonderful opportunity to unify behind a common love of animals,” he said. “COVID-19 does not discriminate; people from all backgrounds and communities will be impacted. A deep connection to animals transcends socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and geographic boundaries. It is a very simple yet impactful way to contribute positively in your community during this crisis.”

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Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough animal shelters are continuing limited hours for pet adoptions while observing social distancing and sanitary recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pinellas County Animal Services remains open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The lobby is closed to the public on Saturdays. Call 727-582-2600.

Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O ‘Lakes, is taking appointments for residents wishing to visit the shelter to adopt a pet through WaitWhile. Currently, the shelter is offering 50 percent off adoption fees for pets that have been in the shelter for more than 100 days. In addition, the adoption fee has been waived for residents age 55 and older who adopt an animal who is at least 5 years old. Feline adoptions are $5 on Fridays. For more information, call 813-929-1212.

The Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, 440 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa, has reduced its hours and waived all adoption fees for dogs and cats. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. The shelter will be closed Sundays and Mondays. Residents can choose a dog or cat for adoption online and pick up the pet at curbside or have it delivered for free.

See related story: Potential Pet Parents Get Curbside Cuddles In Coronavirus Crisis