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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Animal Services has had to find new ways to make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just like many other businesses, Memphis Animal Services was not immune to the impacts of the pandemic. They had to come up with new and creative ways to run their shelter during these uncertain times. If you go there, you will hear familiar sounds, such as dogs barking, but Katie Pemberton, said due to guidelines from the national animal control association, they are only taking in a very specific group of animals.
“Obviously pets that are a threat to public safety, (and) pets that are in need of immediate medical care, they’re coming here,” Pemberton, the Community Engagement Specialist at Memphis Animal Services said.
In addition to taking in fewer animals, Pemberton said visits are by appointment only and staff is now working in two separate teams to avoid potential virus transmission. She said they had arranged their employee schedule and our management schedule. Also, they had to limit the number of guests through their building to practice social distancing.
Though some of the operations changed at Memphis Animal Services, Pemberton said they are still finding ways to impact the Mid-South positively. They have given out more than 27-thousand pounds of dog food to more than 500 at-need families. Also, she said they are continuing to build a foster program. The latest program is called “home school for dogs” which allows families to take home a dog for a week. Pemberton said it is good for both pets and their prospective owners.
“We can see how they are with different types of people, with dogs, what their personality is really like,” Pemberton said. “We get great photos of them. We get great bios of them, and all of that helps them get adopted.”
Memphis Animal Services holds a proud record Pemberton said. She said they have not had to euthanize any puppies, small dogs, or cats, over the last three years. Also, she said they have very low euthanize numbers for bigger dogs, during that timeframe. She said even though they are taking in animals that are in emergencies only, they still have not had to euthanize any of them due to space.
Pemberton said people can help the shelter by becoming a foster parent to one of the animals or by simply adopting one. Additionally, she said making a financial contribution can go a long way.
“Donate! We can use donations of funds, that go to the programs like helping keeping pets with their family, or donated items,” Pemberton said.
This information is provided through the One Health Federal Interagency COVID-19 Coordination Group, Companion Animals1 subgroup, with contributions from federal partners. This document was reviewed by multiple stakeholders representing veterinary medicine, state partners,2 academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations.3
What You Need to Know
Assistance animals5 include service6 and support animals7: In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals must be permitted to remain with their handlers. The Fair Housing Act also mandates that all assistance animals remain with their owners in housing, including emergency sheltering.
The following applies to all congregate cohabitated companion animal emergency shelters. Owned animals entering private sheltering (such as hotel rooms) may not need a veterinary examination.
The flow chart below illustrates the initial intake and levels of precautions needed for housing animals with various combinations of history and clinical signs.
*If an animal has an examination that is suggestive of a contagious disease, including SARS-CoV-2, that animal should be examined by a veterinarian.
3. Reviewing organizations included the American Veterinary Medical Associationexternal icon, the Extension Disaster Education Networkexternal icon, National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programsexternal icon/State Animal Health Officials, and the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition along with several individual subject matter experts.
8. Acknowledging that some small children may not be able to wear or maintain masks
9. The terms general housing, separation and isolation are defined for purposes of this document only and do not necessarily apply to other regulatory or guidance documents.
1 Reusable (i.e., washable) gowns are typically made of polyester or polyester-cotton fabrics. Gowns of these fabrics can be safely laundered according to routine procedures and reused.
2Respiratory protection that is at least as protective as a fit-tested NIOSH-certified disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator is best practice. However, if an N95 or other respirator is not available, use a combination of a surgical mask and a full-face shield.
3Aerosol-generating procedures, such as suction or bronchoscopy, should be avoided, if possible, on any animals that are test-positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Companion animals that do not require hospitalization can be returned to their caretakers to undergo home isolation. See What to Do if Your Pet Tests Positive for the Virus that Causes COVID-19, which has recommendations for owners of test-positive animals; the state public health veterinarian and state animal health official may recommend that owners adhere to this guidance.
A protocol for home isolation applies to all animals that are test-positive and do not require hospitalization. This protocol involves daily monitoring, isolation recommendations, and movement restrictions.
Companion animals that are confirmed to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 and can be isolated at home should be monitored daily by the owner/household members for signs of illness.
If a SARS-CoV-2 test-positive companion animal develops new or worsening symptoms, the owner should inform the treating veterinarian and arrange for the animal to be transported to their veterinary facility or to another previously identified veterinary facility that can provide appropriate care. The treating veterinarian should also inform the state public health veterinarian and state animal health official of the animal’s status, whereabouts, and treatment/care plan.
For the duration of isolation, have the companion animal stay in a designated “sick room” if possible, or otherwise be separated from people and other animals. This is the same way a COVID-19 positive person would separate from others in their household.
Although there is no evidence that companion animals can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to humans, these precautions are recommended out of an abundance of caution until more is known about virus transmission. CDC provides recommendations on how to limit interaction with the isolated companion animal as much as possible.
Regardless of whether the household member has been sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, household members that are providing care for an isolated companion animal should protect themselves and follow CDC’s cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.
Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age with serious underlying conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Information on COVID-19 and pregnancy is very limited. Where possible, people at higher risk for severe illness should avoid caring for animals that are test-positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Below are activities that should be avoided until the companion animal is cleared to return to normal activities:
Where deemed appropriate, repeat testing of companion animals for SARS-CoV-2 should be conducted in coordination with a the state public health veterinarian and state animal health official. Federal partners, including CDC and USDAexternal icon, should be consulted as relevant.
BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – The companionship of a pet makes social distancing and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic a bit easier to tolerate. But for some people, caring for a pet is difficult which is why researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Nursing in Boca Raton came up with the “purr-fect” solution — a robotic cat.
Many older adults, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (ADRD), and their caregivers remain alone for extended periods of time, especially now when family members can’t visit older loved ones in senior living facilities.
The interactive robotic cats respond to motion, touch and sound and offer an alternative to traditional pet therapy.
Data from a study using 12 adults aged 50 and older with ADRD showed the interactive cats are successful tools in managing social isolation.
“What we saw from the robotic, interactive pets project is that it appeared to provide our day care participants with a companion that prompted them to speak to the pet often as well as share their feelings,” said María de los Ángeles Ordóñez, an associate professor and director of FAU’s Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center. “Participants seemed to believe that the pet was responding to their statements through meowing, turning their head, or blinking their eyes, and that they were ‘having a conversation’ with the pet.”
Family caregivers also experienced less stress and benefited when companion pets allowed increased engagement with the older adult and their environment.
Participants often stroked and spoke to their pets, sharing their feelings openly. Several family members reported that their loved one slept with their pet following the program’s conclusion.
“The robotic pets provided a means of engagement and entertainment and also evoked participants to share memories of their previous pets. As a group activity, it also offered opportunities for the participants to communicate with each other,” said Lisa Kirk Wiese, an assistant professor and faculty chair.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, infect only animals and do not infect humans.
We are still learning about the virus that causes COVID-19, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.
CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including dogs and cats, reportedexternal icon to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Only a few of the pets reported to be positive showed signs of illness.
Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection.
There is a small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people. Until we know more about this virus, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals.
If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.
For more information visit: What to Do if You are Sick.
In the United States, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A Chapel Hill family’s dog has tested positive for coronavirus.
The family was involved in a study at Duke in which the mother, father and son tested positive for COVID-19. During this study, the family had their pets tested and found out their pug, Winston, had coronavirus.
Dr. Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the Duke study, said, “The virus that causes COVID-19 was detected,” and he believes it’s the first known positive case in a dog in the United States.
The family’s mother, Heather McLean, is a pediatrician at Duke. She said their dog was experiencing mild symptoms. “Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way. So it almost seems like he was gagging, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual,” she said.
“(The dog) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus),” said McLean’s son, Ben.
The McLeans have four pets: two dogs, a cat and a lizard. The family said the dogs and cat were tested and only Winston tested positive.
They took part in the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI) research study on April 1. “They all came out to our house and did blood samples,” McLean said of the study. “For the humans, they swabbed our noses as well as our mouths, and for the animals they did oral swabs for both dogs and the cat.”
McLean’s daughter, Sydney, was the only member of the family not to test positive for COVID-19. The family’s father, Samuel, works in the emergency room at UNC Hospitals.
The family said Winston was only sick for a few days and is doing much better.
“Hopefully we’ll learn more through the research study, and I think because there’s not a lot of studies and sampling pets, we just don’t know yet. My advice is just not to get too worried about it,” McLean said.
Who this guidance is for: Veterinarians and veterinary staff providing care to companion animals
Purpose: The intent of this guidance is to facilitate preparedness and to ensure practices are in place in a veterinary clinical setting to help people and animals stay safe and healthy.
This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This is a rapidly evolving situation. CDC will update this guidance as needed, and as additional information becomes available. States may have their own specific requirements for these circumstances. Please check the CDC COVID-19 website periodically for updated information as well as interim guidance.
Note: The scientific name of this novel coronavirus is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In people, the disease caused by the virus is called Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19. In the context of animal health, we refer to the disease as SARS-CoV-2.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, is thought to be spread primarily through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking. Airborne transmission over long distances is unlikely. The virus has been shown to survive in aerosols for hours, on cardboard for up to one day, and on plastic or steel for up to three days. There are also reports that people may be able to spread the virus while pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. We are still learning about this novel zoonotic virus, and it appears that in some rare situations, human to animal transmission can occur.
CDC is aware of a small number animals, including dogs and cats, reportedexternal icon to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 after close contact with people with COVID-19. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reportedexternal icon a confirmed infection of SARS-CoV-2 in a tiger with a respiratory illness in New York, which is the first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in an animal in the United States, as well as the first confirmed infection in a tiger in the world. Several other big cats (tigers and lions) in a neighboring enclosure at the zoo also developed a mild respiratory illness, but all are expected to recover. Officials believe this tiger was likely infected by a zoo employee, suggesting person to tiger spread. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by SARS-CoV-2.
Limited information is available to characterize the spectrum of clinical illness associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals. Clinical signs thought to be compatible with SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Follow CDC’s guidance on what to do if you are sick. Ask staff to stay home if they are sick. Employees who appear to have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. Inform the staff’s team members if they have been exposed to a potential COVID-19 case, while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Notify the local health department of the potential exposure as well. Ill staff should not return to work until their fever (defined as ≥ 100.4°F) is absent for at least 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, other symptoms have improved, and at least 7 days have passed since symptom onset.
Implement sick leave policies for veterinary clinic staff that are flexible, nonpunitive, and consistent with public health guidance, allowing employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick employee visited. If possible, staff should each have their own workspace/equipment and avoid sharing desks/work tools. If these items must be shared, they should be frequently disinfected.
Critical workers, like veterinarians and their staff, can be permitted to continue to work following a potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the workplace. Consider having everyone who enters the clinic, including employees and visitors, wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth to contain respiratory secretions, unless engaged in an activity that requires some form of PPE.
Many jurisdictions recognize veterinary practices as essential and are allowing them to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, but considerations should be made to protect human and animal health. To protect staff and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary clinics should postpone elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent visits, and prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures until regular business operations resume in your community.
The greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure to staff at veterinary clinics comes from person-to-person transmission through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking, which is the main way SARS-CoV-2 spreads. Clinic staff should be screened daily, at the beginning of shifts prior to interacting with staff and clients and should practice social distancing. Clinics should take precautions to minimize staff contact with all pet owners. Examples of actions to take to minimize contact with pet owners or other people include:
Have a plan in place to handle animals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposure, or potentially compatible clinical signs. Veterinarians should contact their state public health veterinarianpdf iconexternal icon or state animal health officialexternal icon for guidance on testing animals for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Before scheduled appointments or upon arrival, a staff person should ask if the pet has had any exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
If a pet owner currently has respiratory symptoms or is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, they should not visit the veterinary facility. Consider whether a telemedicine consult is appropriate. If possible, a healthy friend or family member from outside their household should bring the animal to the veterinary clinic. The clinic should use all appropriate precautions to minimize contact with the person bringing the animal to the clinic. If there is an emergency with the animal, the animal should not be denied care.
The clinical spectrum of illness for the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains largely undefined in animals. Animals may present with respiratory or gastrointestinal clinical signs based on the presentation of other coronaviruses more commonly found in animals as well as other emerging coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-1 infection.
Clinical signs expected to be compatible with possible SARS-CoV-2 infection in mammalian animals may include:
Given current limitations in knowledge regarding COVID-19 and companion animals, these PPE guidelines use a cautious approach. Recommendations may change over time, as new information becomes available.
1PPE Standard Precautions should be applied in any setting where veterinary care is delivered and may include use of gloves or protective eyewear depending on the type of procedure and if exposure to fluids, exudates, feces, saliva, or other animal fluids is possible.
2A SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 exposure in this context refers to the following conditions within the 14 days prior to presenting for veterinary care:
3Reusable (i.e. washable) gowns are typically made of polyester or polyester-cotton fabrics. Gowns of these fabrics can be safely laundered according to routine procedures and reused.
4Respiratory protection that is at least as protective as a fit tested NIOSH-certified disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator is recommended.
5 Clinical signs expected to be compatible with possible with SARS-CoV-2 infection in mammalian animals may include:
The decision to test an animal (including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals) should be made collaboratively using a One Health approach between local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials. Animal testing for SARS-CoV-2 is available if public health and animal health officials agree the animal’s case merits testing. Table 1 (below) is not intended to be prescriptive, but is rather intended to help guide priorities given limited resources. Routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended. Confirmatory testing through USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) is not currently available for non-mammalian animals including reptiles, amphibians, birds, or fish.
Currently, there is no evidence that animals can transmit this virus to people. In some rare situations, people have spread this virus to certain types of animals. Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before SARS-CoV-2 testing. To discuss testing an animal for SARS-CoV-2 in certain circumstances, veterinarians should contact their state public health veterinarianpdf iconexternal icon1 (or designated state official responsible for animal-related issues in public health) and/or their state animal health officialexternal icon2.
Limited information is currently available to characterize SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals; please visit CDC’s COVID-19 and Animals page for the most up-to-date information. Clinical criteria for considering testing for SARS-CoV-2 in animals is based on what is currently known about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 and is subject to change as additional information becomes available.
Human patients with COVID-19 have symptoms that appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The clinical spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals is currently unknown, but animals may present with a combination of respiratory symptoms or gastrointestinal illness based on presentation in a small number of animals and what is known about other coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-13. Veterinarians should use their best judgment to determine if an animal has been exposed to people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and if the animal has clinical signs compatible with SARS-CoV-2 infection3. Table 1 describes epidemiological risk factors and clinical features that can help guide decisions regarding animal testing.
If public health and animal health2 officials determine that testing an animal for SARS-CoV-2 is appropriate, coordination between One Health partners will be needed. Please refer to USDA’s FAQsexternal icon for sample collection, transport, storage, and result reporting. If samples are sent to state animal health, university, or private laboratories for initial testing, all samples should be collected in duplicate because any positive samples must be confirmed through additional testing by NVSL. USDA is responsible for reporting any animal that tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)external icon.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play distinct but complementary roles in regulating the importation of live animals and animal products into the United States. CDC regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to human health; USDA regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to agriculture; and FWS regulates importation of endangered species and wildlife that can harm the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources.
Some coronaviruses that infect animals have become able to infect humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are examples of diseases caused by coronaviruses that originated in animals and spread to people. This is what is suspected to have happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19. However, we do not know the exact source of this virus. Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of COVID-19. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person. The coronavirus most similar to the virus causing COVID-19 is the one that causes SARS.
At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.
CDC does not have evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States.
In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. For more information visit: What to Do if You are Sick.
This document is based on the limited available data as of the release date and general recommendations for zoonotic disease infection prevention and control. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Guidance will be updated as new information becomes available. States may have their own specific requirements for these circumstances.
This interim guidance is for public health professionals managing the home care and isolation of people with COVID-19 who have pets or other animals (including service or working animals) in the same home. The intent of this guidance is to facilitate preparedness and establish practices that can help people and animals stay safe and healthy. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.
Household animals, for the purposes of this document, refers to companion animals, including pets and service animals, that live in a home or on the premises of a home. This document does not address instances where a person with COVID-19 interacts with livestock (e.g., pigs, goats, sheep or cattle), wildlife, or other animals on their premises or through duties outside their home.
Public health veterinarian, for the purposes of this document, refers to the state public health veterinarian or designated public health official responsible for handling animal-related public health issues in their jurisdiction.
A state public health veterinarianpdf iconexternal icon should be contacted by public health professionals, animal health professionals or veterinarians that have discovered a household animal with a new, concerning illness and that resides with a person with COVID-19. Some jurisdictions do not have state public health veterinarians, or geographic, resource, or time limitations may prevent public health veterinarian from managing a situation involving household animals.
In addition to other prevention measures, people with COVID-19 and in-home isolation should be advised to limit interaction with household animals. Specifically, while a person infected with COVID-19 is symptomatic, they should maintain separation from household animals as they would with other household members, and avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sleeping in the same location, and sharing food. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Actexternal icon, service animals should be permitted to remain with their handlers. If possible, a household member should be designated to care for pets in the home and should follow standard handwashing practices before and after interacting with the household animal. If a person with COVID-19 must care for pets, they should ensure they wash their hands before and after caring for pets.
Care for household animals that are sick or injured should be coordinated with the household’s local veterinarian. In order to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared for the household animal, the owner should call ahead and arrange the hospital or clinic visit. If an owner is sick with COVID-19, a family member or friend from outside the household may bring the animal to a veterinary hospital or clinic. Telemedicine may also be appropriate to provide consultation with a veterinarian if the owner is a COVID-19 case and is unable to find an alternative caretaker to bring the pet to the hospital. Veterinarians that see animals that have a new, concerning illness and reside with a person with COVID-19 should contact their state public health veterinarianpdf iconexternal icon.
In some instances, household animals may require alternative care or re-homing if the owner is unable to care for the animal or has surrendered the animal. A home receiving a new household animal should follow standard handwashing practices before and after interacting with the animal. Shelters receiving household animals should ensure they review and adhere to their established biosafety and biosecurity practices for infectious diseases.