NACA Statement on Essential Animal Services During COVID-19 WITH AmPA! Links

March 30th, 2020

American Pets Alive! will continuously update and create guidelines and protocols in our AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide to help shelters and rescues maintain lifesaving throughout this pandemic.

We have added links throughout the statement published by the National Animal Care and Control Association on 3/27/20 to help shelters and rescues implement protocols needed to follow the recommendations of this national association.

The NACA statement is as follows: 

Recently, NACA released a statement asserting that animal services should be considered essential public service, and therefore both animal control and shelter operations should continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, NACA has received requests for more information and clarification about what services may and may not be considered essential.

Essential services are those which are necessary for the functioning of the animal services agency. They protect human health and safety; maintain lifesaving; and ensure shelters do not become overcrowded which will lead to additional risks for people who have to continue to care for those animals housed in the institutional setting of the shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even during these unprecedented times, people care deeply about homeless and stray animals and will act to save animals’ lives. The following list of essential and non-essential services are intended to serve as guidelines for most organizations. Ultimately, individual agencies and communities must make decisions based on their own laws, ordinances and internal decision-making processes. All shelters and rescues should first and foremost follow guidelines from the CDC and their own state and local government agencies.

Goals of Maintaining the Performance of Essential Animal Services During COVID-19:

1. Help shelters maintain a slow and steady flow of animals in and out of the shelter system, with a focus on responding to the emergency field and intake needs, providing emergency care for sick and injured animals, and quickly placing incoming animals into foster or adoptive homes.

2. Minimize risk to staff, volunteers and the public by suspending all services that do not directly contribute to emergency rescue, intake and care of pets in immediate need or placement of those animals in temporary or permanent homes.

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Employer Policies Guidelines AND Management Protocol

3. Operate the shelter as a disaster/emergency response center, while managing most pets in foster care, essentially turning the entire community into an animal shelter.

Cross-Training Staff and Volunteers Protocol and Worksheet AND PPE Conservation AND COVID-19 Supply Shortages

Essential Services Include:

  • Information, support and expertise for the community related to pets

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Grassroots Lifesaving for Citizens Protocol

  • Social media, new releases and public information about animals during COVID-19

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Press Release Template AND Internal Messaging Protocol AND Key Public Messages from Shelters

  • Volunteer services, when volunteers are central to performing essential operations

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Emergency Use of Volunteers

Intake Services: Intake of pets who truly need shelter services including:

  • Sick and injured animals
  • Surrendered pets who have no other viable options and cannot remain sheltered where they live or elsewhere in the community
  • Telephone triage for various types of calls to determine urgency and pathway of animals

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Intake Diversion Protocol AND Animal Control and Protection Protocol

  • Intake of dogs that pose a threat to public safety

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Behavior Dog Protocol

Animal Care

  • Emergency medical care for sheltered and incoming pets
  • Medical care required to maintain the health of sheltered pets

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Contagious (non COVID-19) and Hospitalized Animal Protocol

  • Routine care of sheltered pets to maintain the health of animals

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Sheltering During COVID-19 Protocol AND Closed Shelter Protocol

Animal Control and Outreach Services

  • Animal control dispatch services
  • Animal control priority calls including:
  • Cruelty and neglect

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Cruelty Seizure Protocol

  • Public safety calls including bite complaints, dangerous
  • Animals and rabies concerns

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Bite Quarantine Protocol

  • Law enforcement assistance
  • Animals in immediate danger for any reason
  • Impounding pets of sick or deceased people

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Intake & Handling of Known COVID-19 Exposed Animals Protocol

  • Hoarding case response where pets are in immediate danger

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Cruelty Seizure Protocol

  • Disaster relief efforts including food and supply delivery

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Emergency Pet Food Protocol

  • Pet support services to help pet owners in crisis

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Owner Rehoming Protocol

Outcomes

  • Return of found stray pets to their owners

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Stray, Lost & Found Pet Protocol AND Found Foster Protocol for Chameleon AND Continuing Return to Owner Protocol

  • Foster and adoption placement of sheltered pets to prevent overcrowding

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Emergency Foster Protocol AND Foster Vaccine and Medical Protocol AND Remote Adoption/Foster Protocol AND Adoption from Foster Protocol AND Contagious (non COVID-19) and Hospitalized Animal Protocol AND Short-Term Foster and Field Trip Protocol AND Sample Docs.

  • Volunteer services in cases where volunteers contribute to essential functions of the organization

For more information see COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Emergency Use of Volunteers

  • Transport/transfer in cases where shelters will become above critical capacity without these services

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Transport Protocol

Non-essential services, while they may be critically important under normal operating conditions, are not necessary in this immediate moment, as shelters across the country reduce or suspend certain services to protect workers and the public, conserve precious medical supplies, and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

These non-essential services include:

  • Training, events, gatherings
  • Animal control non-essential calls including nuisance calls (see the previous statement issued by NACA on this subject)

For more information see NACA GUIDELINES

  • In-person pet licensing (online or phone options should be considered)
  • Spay and neuter services for community and shelter pets

For more information see NACA Statement on Releasing Unaltered Pets from Animal Shelters During the COVID-19 Pandemic AND UW

  • Community outreach
  • Community medical or microchip clinics
  • Trapping of companion or wildlife animals that are not public safety concerns
  • TNR/SNR

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Feral and Community Cats Protocol

  • Intake of healthy cats and kittens

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Return to Field Protocol for Neonates

  • Pick up and/or intake of healthy, friendly stray animals who are not in immediate danger

For more information see AmPA! COVID-19 Preparedness Guide – Suspension of Feline Intake

Conclusion: Animal Services should be considered an essential public service. We must strive to protect companion animals as a means to protect human health and safety, while ensuring those pursuits do not pose unnecessary risks. Again, these recommendations are intended as guidelines for most organizations. NACA recognizes all communities are unique and what may be safe and feasible for one community may not be for another.

For more information see BFAS Statement AND Executive Orders under "Sample Docs" on the AmPA! COVID-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Guide page.


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