Thousands of New York City residents have died from the coronavirus. It’s a tragedy on an enormous scale made worse by the knowledge that many pets beloved by the virus’ victims will likely be forgotten or released into the environment. 

But if they are sent to a shelter, the Animal Care Caravan may help.

The Caravan is a partnership between the Animal Care Centers of New York City, and the New York State Animal Protection Federation which represents shelters across the state.

What You Need To Know

  • The Animal Care Caravan transports pets from COVID-positive homes in NYC to shelters on Long Island and in upstate
  • Companion animals that are transported via the Caravan are quarantined for 14 days
  • New York State’s shelter system in jeopardy if there are budget cuts

The partnership works like this: companion animals that arrive at ACC from COVID-positive homes in New York City are transported to shelters upstate or on Long Island for care, feeding and adoption.

“The collaboration among all of these groups has been phenomenal,” said Risa Weinstock, CEO of the Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC). “It allows ACC to have a bit more space to do the great work that we do every day.”

Libby Post, executive director of the Animal Protection Federation of New York State, says that so far, they have arranged placements for between 150 and 200 pets from COVID-positive homes in New York City.

“Right now, we’ve got pets at (shelters in) Ulster County and Susquehanna; Saugerties Animal Shelter has expressed an interest so that they can take some animals; Duchess County; Lollipop Farm; Hudson Valley Human Society; North Fork Animal Shelter out east on Long Island; and there are others, if we need more space,” said Post.

Transporting pets from long-term homes where owners have just died is not easy. 

“Anyone who has a pet knows when you get separated from your pet it’s emotional, not only for you, but for your pet,” ACC’s Weinstock said. “I can say with 100% certainty that any animal that is left in that situation is in very good hands. The people who work at ACC, who do transports, who do rescues in the field, who go into peoples’ homes, understand that situation. We are trained. We know how to handle animals. We do it in the safest and most compassionate way possible.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19. A search on the CDC’s website found this guidance: “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.” 

Libby Post of NYSAPF told Spectrum News, “out of an abundance of caution,” all animals that come from COVID-positive homes and that are transported by the Animal Care Caravan are quarantined for 14 days. 

Additionally, Post says, “If they’re at ACC for five days when they come up to Susquehanna or one of the upstate shelters, they put them into quarantine for an additional nine days to get that full 14 days and then put them up for adoption.”

Due to the closure of the economy, the state may be forced to cut $10 billion from the current fiscal year’s budget. On Friday, New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica said those cuts will likely come before the end of May. It’s been reported that aid to municipalities could be cut by 20%

And Post says many of the current municipal contracts don’t currently cover costs.

The news gets worse.

“This is the springtime. And this is when a lot of fundraising events happen for shelters and that’s not happening now. So the shelters are paying for this care. Private philanthropy is paying for the shelters, by and large, and private philanthropy is paying for this care. So it’s more important than ever for people to support their local shelters.” 

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, visit your local animal shelter (shelters are open since they are considered essential work). 

“Everything we are doing is virtual,” Weinstock said. “We are respecting social distancing rules. And we do ‘meet and greets’ on the curbside, so we’re really protecting your safety, and the animals’ safety as well as the staff’s safety.”

If you want to adopt in New York City, visit If you want to adopt a pet from your local upstate shelter, but don't know who to call, search for the closest shelter on-line by visiting