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Animal Shelter & Clinic Reopening FAQs

The spay/neuter dilemma: Making the difficult choice


With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) on the rise worldwide, it is important for shelters and rescues to be prepared for the impact this may have on their staff and their community. The resources and information provided here can help you take proactive steps to prepare. The volume of news on COVID-19 is likely to increase, and public concern will increase with it. Being able to provide accurate and timely information is another service you can provide your employees and community.

General information on COVID-19

While COVID-19 is contagious for humans and, as of now, is understood to spread primarily from person to person, the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Global Veterinary Community—an association representing more than 200,000 veterinarians— states that there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected. The association does, however, caution that this is a rapidly evolving situation and updates will be provided as they are received. People confirmed to have COVID-19 should avoid contact with other people as well as pets. The full advisory document from WSAVA can be found here.

COVID-19 is a newly identified virus that has now been detected in 168 locations internationally, including the U.S.

It is spread mostly from person to person. It is suspected that it originally came from an animal source, but it is now a disease of people.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases. COVID-19 is in that family of viruses.

While scientists and drug companies are working to develop and test treatments and vaccines, at this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it.

Sheltering preparedness

Shelters should prepare for COVID-19 like any other natural disaster during which intake is expected to increase. Pets are a significant part of our families and communities; plans should be in place at an individual and community level.

Stay calm. Remember, we will get through this!

It is important to stay calm. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness spread via droplets and we know how to deal with that.

Being informed and taking precautions is your best course of action. Panic could be the largest factor we have to respond to in this entire situation. Finally, if you have thoughts or concerns, please share them with us.

Because most animal sheltering staff and volunteers are caregivers, the idea of not reporting to work can be unfathomable in spite of an illness. This is where leadership is most critical: we must support health and wellness for our teams by strongly advising them to stay home when sick and sending them home when employees are symptomatic at work. No one gets a gold star for attendance and exposing your co-workers to germs does not create a culture of care. Stay diligent throughout this journey by prioritizing preparedness and safe practices. This is how we will beat the coronavirus.


Five things animal shelters and rescues can do together to minimize shelter Intake and maximize lifesaving due to COVID-19 from the Association of Animal Welfare Advancement

Webinar archives

UC-Davis is now maintaining a list of upcoming and post COVID-19-related webinars presented by animal welfare organizations.


The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

Katherine Shenar
Phone: 888-600-3648 x108

The Humane Society of the United States

Kim Alboum
Phone: 919-744-5093


COVID-19 resources and information for: Animals | People | Community Planning | Usable Communications