Orioles pitcher Cole Irvin hosts donation drive to relieve BARCS after shelter takes in over 300 animals in a week

Cole Irvin has lots of dogs at home in Charlotte, so returning to Baltimore after a road trip with the Orioles can feel a little empty. The pitcher’s partnership with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter has helped fill the gap.

“BARCS allows me and a few of the other guys to take dogs home for overnight stays, so dogs are definitely still around,” Irvin said Thursday afternoon at the shelter. “It’s nice to come home to an animal who is looking forward to seeing you.”

Irvin was at BARCS in Cherry Hill for a collection drive. Anyone who brought a donation off the shelter’s wish list would get an autograph from the left-hander.

The items and attention arrive at the end of a stressful stretch for BARCS. Spokesperson Bailey Deacon said the shelter took in over 300 animals in the past week, including 84 from a single hoarding case.

“It just looked pretty dismal last week. We were out of space already. We had more dogs than we could handle. We were spending money so quickly bringing in contracted vets and vet techs because we didn’t have enough staff,” Deacon said. “The most astounding number people need to understand within the last week we took in more than 300 animals.”

Deacon said on Memorial Day, before he struck out six Red Sox in five scoreless innings for a 11-3 win, Irvin and his wife Kristen were texting her to plan the donation drive dubbed “Pitch-in for Pups.”

Hundreds stood in line outside the shelter with their donations and memorabilia to be signed Thursday. The shelter called for crates, hot dogs, heavy-duty leashes and a host of other items.

“His support for BARCS is wholesome. It’s relatable,” Orioles fan Eric Woods said while waiting in line outside with a box of puppy pads. “He means a lot to this team and the city. I admire that he’s paying attention to what is happening in the community. He’s paying attention to the community he is an ambassador for.”

With the help of Irwin’s publicity, 76 pets were adopted at the shelter Wednesday and Thursday, according to Deacon.

“From that one case at least 40 of those dogs have already been adopted, and the majority are at home on couches being pets tonight,” Deacon said.

Irvin said he knows the feeling.

“There’s Rocky, Tammy, Sissy, Hank and Gracie May,” Irvin said of his dogs back home in North Carolina. “We’ve had about 30 or so dogs come through our farm in the past year at our home in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ve had dogs, cats and a couple bunnies. We know how much an animal can affect a household and how amazing they are.”