Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program

Saving lives through science, leadership, and service.

COVID-19 Resources


Cornell Shelter Medicine "Office Hours"

hosted by MSMP at Cornell

Fridays (starting June 5th) at 3PM EST 

Register in advance for this meeting: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Maddie's@ Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University will hold weekly Friday sessions to provide updates on the ever-changing field of Shelter Medicine. Led by CUMSMP faculty, this forum is meant to be a place for shelter veterinarians, staff, and volunteers to ask questions and discuss their concerns during this pandemic. Note: This meeting will be recorded. If possible, please email your questions in advance to Sarah Nickerson (Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator) at so we can prepare to meet your needs and answer your questions efficiently and effectively. We are all in this together! 

Find the recordings of our previous "Updates & Discussions: The impact of COVID-19 on NYS Animal Shelters" sessions below

May 22, 2020: A recording of this event is coming soon.

May 15, 2020: A recording of this event can be found HERE

May 08, 2020: A recording of this event can be found HERE

May 01, 2020: A recording of this can be found HERE.

April 24. 2020: A recording of this event can be found HERE

April 17, 2020: A recording of this can be found HERE.

April 10, 2020:  A recording of this event can be found HERE.

April 3, 2020: A recording of this event can be found by clicking HERE.

March 27, 2020: A recording of this event can be found by clicking HERE

CUMSMP's COVID-19 Animal Sheltering Guidelines

Many organizations are writing guidelines and protocols to address challenges in sheltering due to COVID-19 concerns.  Below we collect and summarize recommendations to provide the most succinct version of what is currently considered best practice for shelters; at times we have added some recommendations of our own based on current information and questions we have received. Resources are cited. Please check back as recommendations may change

Please click on each topic below to learn more. 

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to COVID-19

Reliable Resources Library

Responding to COVID-19 Concerns in the animal sheltering community           

Our Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program has been inundated with requests from veterinarians and animal shelters looking for reliable information for their humane organizations and communities.  Although the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve, there are good sources for policies, protocols, and practices that provide for greater human safety without sacrificing humane care. Many industry sites provide reliable and sound information for your community’s companion animal health professionals. In this challenging time, we recommend:

1. Consulting a reliable industry resource for general information on COVID-19 for animal shelters. We really like these:

2. Shelters performing animal control duties should prioritize only essential ACO functions: 

  • National Animal Control Association: - Animal control functions need to be focused on only the most essential tasks.  They should suspend all low priority/non-emergency activities (non-aggressive stray animal pickup, barking, leash law, nuisance, community cat, and conflict mitigation complaints), reduce shelter intake (emergency animals only, return to owner vs. impound, owners keep ill pets at home), and wear PPE in homes where someone has symptoms. A protocol for intake for ACOs is included.

3. Reducing the intake of cats into the shelter through all humane means possible:

4. Learning how to safely provide care for animals exposed to SARS-COV2, including intake procedures:

5. Being open to all ideas. Agencies will likely need to release unaltered pets from shelters during this pandemic. Here’s why. 

  • NACA: -  The lack of immediately available spay and neuter services should not be a reason for shelter euthanasia. Three possible live outcome options: adopt out pets unaltered and provide vouchers for future use to get the pet spayed or neutered; outcome pets as ‘foster-to-adopt’ and provide surgeries in the future; and/or provide a list of low-cost spay and neuter services in the community for care after the pandemic is over.  Advise pets are kept indoors and not put at risk for reproducing in the home.

6. Increasing the capacity of foster care programs. This is essential to reducing in-shelter inventory of animals and minimizing risk to shelter staff from COVID-19 exposure. It also provides better welfare for shelter animals to be in a home environment, even if it is temporary.

7. If possible, continue to provide pet food pantries for owners in need. Do this is the safest way possible:

8. Pulling out all the stops to manage intake and support keeping pets in homes.

9. Following veterinary specific sites for reliable information about the virus and quickly evolving science. The following provide animal shelter kits, checklists, guides, and advice for veterinary professionals:

10. Emergency Resources for People and Pets

11. PPE & Sanitation Alternatives for Animal Shelters

1. "Shelter Sanitation: Part 1" (webinar, 30 minutes), Dr. Chumkee Aziz, DVM 

2. "Shelter Sanitation: Part 2" (webinar, 30 minutes), Dr. Chumkee Aziz, DVM

12. Other non-medical resources for shelters

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