VANCOUVER -- Several animal shelters across the province are restricting access to the public in a response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC SPCA announced its decision on Wednesday, particularly as shelters are seeing staff shortages, a statement from the animal welfare organization says. 

Staff and volunteers are still on site taking care of the animals, giving emergency treatment and accepting emergency surrenders.

But those who are hoping to adopt a pet still can, the SPCA says, they'll just need to fill out an application online and make an appointment. 

"We thank you for your help in ensuring that we can direct our limited resources to the animals in most urgent need of care," the SPCA's statement says. 

"We encourage people interested in adopting to view our available animals online. Maintaining the flow of animals into new, loving homes will enable us to continue helping new animals at risk, even with limited staffing."

Richmond-based Regional Animal Protection Society, or RAPS, is also restricting public access to its shelters as of Thursday. Visiting hours at their cat sanctuary are also cancelled until further notice and all of RAPS' thrift stores are closed indefinitely.

However, the organization is still operating its animal hospital. Pets can be brought in for appointments as usual, and owners can leave or wait in their vehicle if they'd prefer. The animal hospital is also offering online ordering and delivery of pet food and supplies. 

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association doesn't have a traditional shelter as all of its rescues are cared for in foster homes, but the organization still says it's taking extra precautions during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

All volunteers and adopters are being asked if they're in self-isolation with flu-like symptoms or because of recent travel or close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. In those cases, any adoption process involving in-person contact is being delayed.

"These are challenging times, but we look forward to helping match adopters with their perfect kitty as soon as possible," VOKRA said in a statement. "In the meantime, please take care of yourself and stay safe."