A former shelter dog, Murphy, comes in for an appointment at the Humane Society of Ocean City. (Photos courtesy HSOC) By MADDY VITALEDirectors of the Humane Society of Ocean City, a no-kill shelter off Tennessee Avenue, have had to make some changes amid the COVID-19 crisis.They have had to let go of volunteers temporarily to ensure social distancing. They have had to restrict adoptions to limited appointments. And they have had to come up with creative ways to keep the 64 animals in their care active and healthy.With less staff to walk the dogs and limited time to spend playing with the cats, it has been a task.While there is nothing normal about being in a pandemic, shelter officials say, they are making it work.“We really do miss our volunteers and we know how hard it is on them, and we can’t wait until the day we can celebrate the end of the pandemic with them,” Bill Hollingsworth, executive director of HSOC, said Friday.Even though the adoptable dogs and cats do not get to see volunteers, they still get a lot of attention from staff.Phil Bellucci, HSOC operations manager, added that many of the staff members are cross-trained. Shelter staff are also animal control officers.“Everyone is doing every job. Dogs are getting a lot of attention. On Monday, we play videos for the cats,” he noted. “We are trying to come up with innovative activities, but the animals do miss the volunteers.”Currently, there are 61 cats and three dogs at the shelter, but the numbers fluctuate. The adoption fees are $100 for dogs and $60 for cats.“For a while we weren’t doing any adoptions, because we wanted to make sure we had a plan in place to protect the staff and the people who visited as well,” Hollingsworth explained.He continued, “We are doing adoptions that are limited. People have to have an appointment. They can call us and speak to the adoption counselors and there are limited days and limited times to do the visit. Our staff is all gowned up. People don’t go to the building.”Instead, visitors can meet with their prospective new pet in a special area outside of the main facility.To view animals available for adoption, people may visit www.hsocnj.org and click on the adoption link.There are 61 adoptable cats, such as this pair, to choose from at the shelter.The HSOC Veterinary Clinic is open but, like other animal care facilities at this time, clients wait in their cars until they are called on their cell phone at their appointment time.A staff member will come out to the parking lot and take your pet to see the veterinarian. Only employees are allowed in the HSOC buildings.Hollingsworth urged all pet owners to make sure to speak with their veterinarians and make sure their pets have all the medications they need, including flea and tick and heartworm medications.Last month, when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place throughout the state for employees in essential positions such as animal care, there were several meetings to plan for the change in how to manage the shelter and the HSOC Veterinary Clinic, which is next to the shelter at 1 Shelter Road.“We had to plan. We had to purchase PPE (personal protective equipment) for the animal control officers – face masks, gloves and glasses,” Hollingsworth explained.HSOC donors reached into their pockets and showed their generosity.“We had people who made online donations to purchase the equipment,” Hollingsworth said. “At first, we had to really ask for people to help us out. Luckily, we have enough. We want to thank the people who made the donations to us directly.”People continue to donate to the HSOC during the pandemic.Among others, donations came from members of the Ocean City Police Department, who paid for the shelter employees’ food at a local restaurant.The HSOC leases its space from the city in return for animal control services. Hollingsworth said the city has been supportive of them and their needs in this difficult time.“We are down $35,000. Right now, we’d be in the midst of the membership drive. We are not mailing anything out yet. We realize the predicament people are in in their own home,” Hollingsworth said.So, for now, Bellucci said, the staff is working on a virtual camp out with your pets event set for 6 p.m. on May 23. The event will be featured with live streams on the shelter’s Facebook page.“We will have the shelter dogs participating in it and musicians doing some live feeds on the Facebook page and activities you can do with your animals at home,” Bellucci said. “We are working with some of the big supporters on our events. This is going to be totally different.”While it is unknown when the pandemic restrictions will end, Hollingsworth and Bellucci stressed that the animals will continue to be well-cared for.“There are so many great organizations out there and nonprofits in the same boat as we are,” Hollingsworth noted. “Our message is to take care of yourselves. Take care of your animals and someday, we will get back to normalcy.”For more information or to donate, visit hsocnj.org. People may also visit the shelter’s Facebook page.During an interview in January, before the pandemic, HSOC Operations Manager Phil Bellucci, left, and Executive Director Bill Hollingsworth posed for a photo.