DALLAS - Dallas Animal Services will be closed to the public on Thursdays until further notice because of COVID-19 and staffing shortages.
The city said the shelter was already short-staffed and is now dealing with an increasing number of sick workers because of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
Closing for one day a week will allow the shelter to adjust staff schedules for better customer service throughout the rest of the week.
The new hours will be from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, 1 to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Workers will still be at the shelter to care for the animals on Thursdays and pet owners will still be able to call the shelter on Thursdays to claim lost pets.
"Just like the rest of the city, state, nation, world having staffing shortages, the city of Dallas is no different," said councilman Omar Navarez.
Dallas Animals Services told FOX4 they were so short-staffed Monday, they were unable to even do an interview about the impact of the shortages.
But Narvaez, who is on the Quality of Life Committee, said the shortages will not impact the welfare of animals.
"Had to do what is best for the animals. Closing on Thursday is only for people who visit. You can still adopt online or surrender a dog on Thursday. Everything is the same except being able to browse the animal," he said.
Narvzaez says while the closure is until further notice, he hopes the shelter can reopen to the public on Thursdays sometime in February.
DAS’ field team will also work seven days a week, but response times are expected to be longer than normal because of the staffing shortages, the city said. Narvaez says calls regarding loose dogs or animal abuse will not be delayed due to staffing shortages. It is only the lower priority calls that will have longer response times.
Narvaez says the city is grappling with staffing shortages across the city.
"We've had an issue in Dallas fire, Dallas police, sanitation. I am sure people have noticed recycling is being picked up a day late," Navarez said.
The need to quarantine for five days is one of the reasons omicron is hurting staffing levels so much.
"With COVID, omicron is spreading so fast, can have 10-20-30 percent of a department out," he said.
Narvaez says things are starting to approve with police and fire.
"Starting to see numbers drop," he said.