While people are urged to wear masks and practice social distancing, the staff at the Humane Society of Greenwood is looking out for the continued safety and health of our furry friends.

HSOG is reaching out to supporters for donations of pet food — dog, cat, puppy and kitten, dry and wet canned foods. For the digestive health of the shelter animals, they’ve requested Purina or Pedigree brands.

Food can be ordered online, as Amazon allows shoppers to select the HSOG as the charity to direct the purchase to, and Chewy.com and other online suppliers can ship directly to HSOG at 2820 Airport Road, Greenwood.

Donors can still deliver food personally but are asked to leave it outside the front doors, as the number of people allowed in the facility is limited during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s hard to ask for help when so many are facing tough times now, said Karen Pettay, former HSOG director and now head of the shelter’s finances. When people began working from home and closing businesses in response to the virus earlier this year, she said the shelter followed suit. It closed to all visitors and even had concerns about the animals possibly carrying the virus and transmitting it to people.

Since then, everyone’s learned a lot more about the virus and how to responsibly react to it. Staff and volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing, visits are by appointment only and the number of guests allowed in at any given time is restricted.

Pettay said as people have started to return to work, now seems the right time to ask for help again. The shelter relies on donations for pet food and without them, online orders had been shipping late and many stores didn’t carry enough food for the demand the shelter generates.

“We really need to fill up our pantry again,” Pettay said. “We’re just hoping that we’ll reach out to people in a real way.”

Connie Mawyer, HSOG’s director of operations, said when things came to a halt, the shelter stopped taking in animals except in emergency cases. Staff worked with shelters in Charleston and Greenville to develop and adopt COVID-19 safety policies and worked to ramp up their animal fostering program.

“With our managed intake, we didn’t go over the shelter’s capacity of care,” Mawyer said. “More people staying home meant more foster homes for our animals.”

They shut down walk-in visitations, so anyone looking to meet with an animal has to look online at gwdhumanesociety.org to browse animals and contact the shelter ahead of time to set up an appointment. Mawyer said they created a questionnaire that helps would-be adopters match with animals that fit their lifestyle and level of activity.

These appointments let staff be ready for the people coming in, and give the animals in the shelter more consistent daily routines without being pulled out to excitedly meet a stranger multiple times a day.

COVID-19 forced the shelter staff to think strategically, and their new models allow them to focus more attention on individual clients coming in and each animal in their care.

“We have a real passion for animals,” Mawyer said. “We care about animals, and we care about people.”

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.