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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:
ASPCA's COVID-19 Animal Relocation Preparedness Guide: https://www.aspcapro.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/aspca-animal-relo-prep.pdf The recommendations provided in this guidance document seek to highlight the numerous issues that should be considered by animal welfare organizations in their planning for resumption of relocation programs.
The COVID-19 Spay/Neuter Clinic Guidelines are here!: https://network.bestfriends.org/covid-19-sn-clinic-guide This collaborative effort led by shelter and spay/neuter professionals (including our own program director, Dr. Elizabeth Berliner) provides guidance on how to follow social distancing guidelines while safely performing spay/neuter surgeries. Click on the link below to learn more! #ThanksToMaddie
COVID-19 Spay/Neuter Assessment Checklist: https://www.animalsheltering.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/Spay%20Neuter%20Assessment%20Checklist.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2EAl-oeQ50dClGh16COyslC2h0Tpc0Y8O0Vgba1_JevIV8uV1a4eam33M Use this checklist put together by The Humane Society of the United States to assess the factors that may impact your organization’s ability to reimplement non-emergency spay/neuter surgeries. Click below to view.
NACA Recommendations for Continued Modified Operations Due to COVID-19: https://www.nacanet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NACA-Recommendations-for-Continued-Modified-Operations-Due-to-COVID-19.pdf
NACA Position Statements & Recommendations: https://www.nacanet.org/covid19/ . Download and share these statements, protocols, and recommendations on animal control functions, continuity of services, cat intake policies, and more.
- Animal Sheltering: https://www.animalsheltering.org/COVID19 - This site provides facts about the virus and transmission, up to date stats, and a link for online foster/volunteer training from AAWA.
- COVID-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Guide prepared by American Pets Alive: https://sites.google.com/americanpetsalive.org/ampa-covid19/covid-19-protocols?authuser=0
2. Shelters performing animal control duties should prioritize only essential ACO functions:
- National Animal Control Association: https://www.nacanet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NACA-Statement-on-Animal-Control-Functions-1.pdf - 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:
- National Animal Control Association: https://www.nacanet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Cat-Intake-Protocols-Statement.pdf - ACOs should suspend intake of healthy/stray cats except TNR (if surgery is available); cease trapping of healthy community cats; continue intake for sick, injured, and cats in danger; and hoarding situations should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
- American Pets Alive!: https://sites.google.com/americanpetsalive.org/ampa-covid19/covid-19-protocols/intake-prevention-field-services/suspension-of-feline-intake - Shelters should cease all healthy cat intake including trapping of stray/community cats. Intake should only occur in as an emergency measure– injury/illness/neglect/abuse.
4. Learning how to safely provide care for animals exposed to SARS-COV2, including intake procedures:
FLOWCHART: Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure and Social Distancing in Veterinary Practice: https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/COVID-19-MinimizeExposure-Flowchart-v2.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2BklfSjhZJAu0-0i1gI8Ks6lAkXsQHerFJ7z4Xw8BykuQ1f7NRYClpXA4
- AVMA/CDC: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/interim-recommendations-intake-companion-animals-households-humans-COVID-19-are-present Interim recommendations for intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are present.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: https://www.uwsheltermedicine.com/library/resources/animal-services-role-in-covid-19-support
- University of Florida: https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/wordpress/files/2020/03/Interim-Guidance-on-Shelter-Care-of-Animals-Exposed-to-COVID-19_updated-3-24-20.pdf
5. Being open to all ideas. Agencies will likely need to release unaltered pets from shelters during this pandemic. Here’s why.
- NACA: https://www.nacanet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Releasing-Unaltered-Pets-from-Animal-Shelters-During-the-COVID-19-Pandemic.pdf - 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.
- Cornell University: http://blogs.cornell.edu/cornellsheltermedicine/2020/04/16/foster-care-is-the-new-shelter-keep-animals-in-the-community-heres-how/ Guide to Online Training for Foster Programs: Here is the best online training we found for shelter staff, kitten fosters, and dog fosters to create a sustainable and best practice approach to using foster homes as your new shelter.
- Maddie’s Fund: https://www.maddiesfund.org/covid-19-emergency-foster-care-resources.htm - This is a regularly updated guide for COVID-19 and Emergency Foster Care Resources.
- Consider telemedicine for managing some medical needs in foster care. The Best Friends Vet Access app is now available for FREE to Best Friends Network partners to use for fosters: https://network.bestfriends.org/opportunities/best-friends-vet-access-network-partner-fosters
- American Pets Alive! has created the 8-week "Naughty to Nice K9 Quarantine Bootcamp" to help build strong bonds with both foster and adopted dogs: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1J8QwQjIswPSxzENIdDo10WcX4x3KTiaD_oIGFBHD1FA/viewform?edit_requested=true&fbclid=IwAR0fgh3oir-NoAy6OxsJtb4WSjbRgXXilb5YO0s6DE5DAmxMJyidFrNHaSM
- American Pets Alive! provides a step-by-step guide for those community members who have found a dog or a cat and want to make sure they are safe from harm in this blog post, "What to Do if You Find a Lost Pet & the Shelter is Closed". Click here for information about found dogs and here for information about found cats.
7. If possible, continue to provide pet food pantries for owners in need. Do this is the safest way possible:
- Pet food bank converting to Drive Thru status: https://www.coloradopetpantry.org/pet-food-bank-status-in-the-age-of-covid-19/
8. Pulling out all the stops to manage intake and support keeping pets in homes.
- American Pets Alive!: https://sites.google.com/americanpetsalive.org/ampa-covid19/covid-19-protocols/intake-prevention-field-services/owner-rehoming-protocol - help owners rehome without doing intake at shelter, provide supplies/resources to keep animals in home, organize crowdfunding.
- Best Friends: https://network.bestfriends.org/lifesaving-library/covid-19-resources/managing-intake-your-community - this page offers links on how to encourage fosters, manage neonate intake, and provides a playbook on managed intake (https://network.bestfriends.org/lifesaving-library/operational-playbooks/managed-intake-or-admissions-training-playbook) Most of the info on this page is links to American Pets Alive and NACA sources, which I’ve posted below in other topics.
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:
- World Small Animal Vet Association: https://wsava.org/news/highlighted-news/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-animals-advice-for-wsava-members/ basic info about the virus, updated information available in several languages
- AMVA: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19 - better information about the virus, tips on telemedicine, supply chain impacts, keeping vet teams healthy.
10. Emergency Resources for People and Pets
- HSUS guide to organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/are-you-having-trouble-affording-your-pet
- ASPCA COVID-19 Emergency Relief Request for Proposals: https://www.aspcapro.org/grant/2020/03/23/aspca-covid-19-emergency-relief-request-proposals The ASPCA is inviting grant proposals from animal welfare organizations negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis under the recently announced ASPCA Relief & Recovery Initiative.
- RedRover: https://redrover.org/news/coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR3yP_IoDaSLSAFV-6gssPAesd8F-UzLl1TR4NADYVp26c-nlzro41lG4fE "COVID-19 Emergency Resources for People and Pets". RedRover staff and volunteers provide temporary emergency sheltering, resources, financial assistance and emotional support when animals and people are in crisis.
Safe Place for Pets: https://safeplaceforpets.org On-site housing and Off-site Housing for people and pets who need a safe escape from domestic violence.On-site housing and Off-site Housing for people and pets who need a safe escape from domestic violence.
Animal Welfare Institute: https://awionline.org/content/safe-havens-mapping-project-pets-domestic-violence-victims Directory (by zip code and state) of safe havens for pets of domestic violence victims near you.
11. PPE & Sanitation Alternatives for Animal Shelters
- University of Florida: https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/covid-19-resources/ Solutions for sanitation and disinfection; personal protective equipment for animal handling; and surgical supplies.
- ASPCAPRO: Sanitation and Disinfection
1. "Shelter Sanitation: Part 1" (webinar, 30 minutes), Dr. Chumkee Aziz, DVM https://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/20170711/shelter-sanitation-1#video-player
2. "Shelter Sanitation: Part 2" (webinar, 30 minutes), Dr. Chumkee Aziz, DVM
12. Other non-medical resources for shelters
- Non-Profit SBA Loans to ensure paychecks for non-profits: https://insidecharity.org/2020/04/01/nonprofit-paycheck-protection-program-application-ppp/
- Fund-raising resources from Best Friends: https://network.bestfriends.org/covid-19/fundraising
- Jessica Dolce Webinar on managing stress for shelter staff: https://jessicadolce.com/uf-coping-with-covid19/
- Subscribe to the Animal Welfare Daily Digest: https://mailchi.mp/animalwelfaredigest/subscribe
- Important Graphics & Flyers for Messaging Your Community & Staff: http://blog.theaawa.org/covid-19-comms-graphics-and-flyers-for-messaging-your-community-staff/ The North American COVID-19 Communication Task Force, a collaboration of animal welfare organizations across the U.S and Canada, has created accurate and shareable infographics for you to use when messaging a variety of audiences—the pet parents in your community, shelter staff, law enforcement, and your foster families. Use as is or have your in-house design team tweak them to make them your own.