A Shelter Veterinarian’s Guide to COVID-19

As the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to evolve, ASV looks to support its membership who are working hard to keep shelter pets and communities safe and healthy. Many of our partners, friends and mentors in animal sheltering and shelter medicine have created online toolkits and websites that are continuously being updated to support the animal sheltering community. Please use this brief guide below to help find answers to your pressing questions surrounding COVID-19 and animal sheltering.

Stay abreast of updates to keep your agency safe and prepared:

  • Follow the CDC COVID-19 website for up-to-date, reliable information on the situation.
  • Develop and adapt your facility’s emergency plan as the situation continues to evolve.
  • Establish relationships with local and national partners for support as needed as expected workforce shortages occur.
  • Consider how telehealth services may be of use to your agency during this time of social distancing and workforce shortages.
  • Communicate with your staff and volunteers about COVID-19.
  • Encourage sick employees and volunteers to stay home.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently.

The AVMA website provides up-to-date information on COVID-19 as it pertains to pets and veterinarians. Its FAQ section is continuously updated. The AVMA and ASV also just released an updated version of best practices for animal transport that can be particularly useful during this time when many sheltering agencies are relocating animals.

The Animal Sheltering website, created by The Association for Animal welfare Advancement and HSUS, provides a continuously updated shelter kit, which includes invaluable resources such as media release templates and disaster plan samples.

The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine at UF website contains useful and practical resources such as an interim guide on shelter care of animals exposed to COVID-19, as well as additional resources. 

The UW Shelter Medicine Program provides additional, practically-oriented guidance and information for shelters intaking pets from households where COVID-19 is present, as well as recommendations for limiting non-emergency services such as spay/neuter surgery in certain cases.  

The NACA website has published statements regarding the suspension of non-essential services to prioritize emergency situations in sheltering.

And, just as importantly as the resources above, there many resources available that focus on helping to mitigate the stressful toll that this situation can take on you, your family and your staff. Jessica Dolce, a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator, is providing a webinar on March 19 open to anyone who works with animals to discuss ways of coping with stress during this pandemic.

While many in-person annual conferences are being canceled due to the COVID-19, ASV, along with many of our partners, have online learning opportunities on various sheltering and shelter medicine topics that can be found in the “Continuing Ed” section of our website.