The Committee of the Australian Institute of Animal Management have prepared the following statement and advice to assist Local Government Animal Management and Local Laws departments in this current state of world and national affairs.
Links to expert and official information can be found at the bottom of this document.
1. Animal management and sheltering is an essential service and wherever possible should not experience any disruption of service provision to the community. It is advised, however, to reduce non-essential shelter/pound intake and prioritise operations that return pets in the field (prior to intake) or increase returns to owners once admitted to a facility.
- Any non-emergency type surrenders should be postponed (or other solutions identified) wherever possible.
- Any animals that are in (or might be an) immediate danger or injured/sick should still be admitted.
- Animal Management staff are encouraged to work with pet owners and the community remotely, to assist them in finding alternate solutions to their problem. Information on intake diversion can be found here.
- Moving to a managed intake policy will assist in reducing the potential for overcrowding and euthanising for space. Further information on Managed Intake can be found here.
- Increasing Return to Owner information can be found here.
2. Priority should be placed on reducing the current facility population via adoption, transfer to another organisation or placement in foster care, wherever possible.
- These functions can occur by utilising disease transmission risk reduction procedures such as operating in outside spaces, implementing the recommended personal space, PPE and hygiene measures and scheduling attendance on site to reduce numbers of people at any one time.
- The potential for overcrowding and euthanising for space can be avoided if advice is followed.
- People working from and isolating in, home environments, have more capacity to help now, than ever before. Engage the community now, and place as many animals into foster, rescue and adoption placements as possible. If your facility or organisation does not have a foster program in place, contact your rescue partners ASAP and find out how you can assist them to find foster homes for your animals in care. Also see the links provided below on how to make the most of the community’s support and compassion during this time.
- More information on emergency foster protocols can be found here.
3. The implementation of protocols and procedures to reduce the need for the community to come to the facility, and the numbers of community members on site at any one time will also serve to reduce the risk of transmission.
o If they or an immediate family member travelled outside of Australia in the last 4 weeks?
o Have they travelled interstate within the last 2 weeks?
o Have they come in to contact with any person showing cough, cold or flu symptoms within the last 2 weeks?
- Anybody who has, should be asked to stay away until they can answer ‘No’ to all of the above questions.
- If staff do have to engage directly with the public, ensure that strict,no contact and hygiene practices are in place (no sharing of pens etc. physical separation at all times etc.)
- Developing a scheduling system may also assist to reduce risk and maintain operational efficiency.
4. The implementation of a priority response system would be a useful strategy that will ensure community safety whilst reducing risk of potential transmission from exposure to novel people.
- Nonpriority response could include regular street and dog park patrols, animal local law complaints such as barking dogs and wandering cats and trapping, transporting and intake of unowned cats.
5. Hoarding situations should be assessed on an individual basis, to determine the urgency of need of variables such as caretaker’s health, state of environment, and health and welfare of the animals present.
- Managing any required intake may be a reasonable response, as might sheltering in place at the home, if appropriate for the safety of all involved. (Managed intake refers to a thoughtful process where admission to the shelter is either diverted completely or to a later time (i.e. scheduled) based on the shelter’s capacity to provide care and in some cases, assure a live outcome for each animal admitted. While it might be expected that diverting or scheduling intake would lead animals to be abandoned or suffer worse harm in the community than would be incurred by admission to a crowded shelter, in practice these fears have not been borne out. Further information on Managed Intake can be found here.
6. All Local Government staff need to take extra measures to protect themselves, and to reduce their role in transmitting the COVID-19 virus. The use of appropriate PPE and adherence to personal and workplace hygiene measures has never been more important.
- In the event that staff do have to engage with the community there should be protocols in place that include strict no contact and hygiene practices (i.e. no sharing of pens or other equipment, 1.5 – 2 metres physical separation at all times etc.)
- Where possible, separating staff into rotating teams to minimise contact between key staff members, will assist in ensuring that unaffected staff are available for essential duties in the event a staff member may not be able to attend work.
7. Cleaning protocols should be reviewed to ensure that vehicles, equipment, facilities and public spaces are being dealt with according to current recommendations.
- Cleaning methods, as well as products used, should be reviewed and updated where necessary.
8. It is imperative that the community is kept up to date with any changes to services and any current advice around the disease and their pets. The existing advice is that pets do not pose a risk to caretakers by direct transmission of the COVID19 virus.
Thank you for all that you do. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance with any of the above during this current challenging situation.
Links to expert and official information – in no particular order
1. Australian Government Department of Health -https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
2. Australian Veterinary Association - https://www.ava.com.au/coronavirus/
1. University of Florida Shelter Medicine program - http://bit.ly/UFCovid
2. National Animal Care & Control Association - https://www.nacanet.org/covid19/
3. American Pets Alive! - http://bit.ly/AMPACovid
4. World Health Organisation - https://www.who.int/emergen…/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
5. World Organisation for Animal Health - http://bit.ly/3OIECovid
6. HeARTspeak - http://bit.ly/HeARTspeakCovid
7. UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program - http://bit.ly/KoretCovid19
8. Humane Society of the United States - https://www.animalsheltering.org/COVID19
9. Association for Animal Welfare Advancement - http://bit.ly/AAWACOVID19
The information for the above statement was sourced from the above organisation’s resources and links.