The following comes directly from Kristen Tullo, the Pennsylvania State Director in charge of State Affairs, and is posted here with her permission. She has written some excellent information for those who work in the animal community and anyone who cares for animals, which includes family pets. There are many links to organizations that can help people as we go through this pandemic together.
We at Pig Placement Network and Ross Mill Farm thank Kristen for taking the time to put this valuable document together. Please feel free to share this to your page or to any groups that you belong to. It is important information that needs to be made known. Thank you.
This pandemic has potential to negatively impact shelters, rescues and sanctuaries due to temporary loss of staff and volunteers, limited resources and space, and more pets being surrendered. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve put together a FAQ here to help you care for your pets. In the link here, the Humane Society of the United States provides protocol and guidance for animal shelters to navigate the COVID-19 situation. This website is updated by animal sheltering experts on a daily basis. This link details important steps to expand foster networks during this critical time.
The Pennsylvania Animal Response Team (PASART) is working with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to prepare for the needs of pets should COVID-19 affect shelters or render pets in need. The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Teams are also on standby for emergency services, and their webpage is being updated with info here. The Pennsylvania Vet Medical Association are working to keep updated information for both vets and pet owners on their homepage here.
Pets are an important part of our families, and Pennsylvania law requires us to have a plan in place to care for them. This situation is evolving quickly so pet resources may or may not be available and pet related businesses, organizations, etc. will have to evaluate whether or not to restrict opening to the public. Pennsylvania families should properly prepare and care for their pets in the midst of this crisis. Please maintain adequate supplies of food, water, and medications for all family members including pets.
In the link here the Humane Society of the United States has protocol and guidance for animals shelters to navigate the coronavirus situation. It’s being updated by animal sheltering experts on a daily basis. While there is no evidence that dogs and cats can pass the new coronavirus to humans, the HSUS and Association for Animal Welfare Advancement collaborated to develop a tool kit to help shelters and rescues prepare for the impact that the virus could potentially have on your staff and community.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves on a daily basis, urgent responses from the breadth of animal related entities has been highly cooperative, comprehensive, and supportive. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), other animal welfare organizations, and state government agencies have developed various resources to provide animal care businesses, shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, and private pet owners with access to current information and tools to help manage their situation and make sound decisions.
Among these resources are two attachments from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: COVID-19 Guidance for Essential Businesses for Boarding Kennels, Doggie Daycares, Animal Shelters, Sanctuaries, and Rescues; and COVID-19 Guidance for Private Pet Owners. The links listed below lead to additional helpful information amid this crisis. Please feel free to disseminate these resources within your own network and with public officials in your community. Please note pet food stores and veterinary centers are also considered life-sustaining services, however, this situation is evolving quickly so pet resources may or may not be available and pet related businesses, organizations, etc. will have to evaluate whether or not to restrict opening to the public.
- The link here, provides protocol and guidance for animal shelters, rescues, sanctuaries to navigate COVID-19.
- This link details important steps to expand foster networks during this critical time.
- The HSUS posted FAQs about pet preparedness and what people can do to help animals in need.
- The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team is on standby for emergency services, and their webpage is here.
- The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is working to keep information updated for both veterinarians and pet owners on their homepage.
- The Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania will post updates for animal shelters on their website.
- This blog is for groups that do community outreach and pet owner support work.
As Pennsylvania responds to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, work has been, understandably, focused on the serious impact on the human population. However, there are animal issues surfacing that should be considered in tandem to the planning taking place to protect people. Please consider asking your state legislators to hold a virtual town hall to educate the public about pet preparedness and things they can do to help in their own communities. Invite your local media outlets and ask them to encourage pet preparedness and offer the resources you are able to provide within your community. There are lots of options for partnering to hold the virtual town hall: local animal shelter, rescue, sanctuary, veterinarian, pet food store, pet food pantry, animal control officer, or humane police officer. Topics could include what pet owners should do to prepare with food and medications during this time, as well as numerous ways people can make a difference to help others.
- Contact a local shelter, rescue, or sanctuary to find out their urgent requirements. Many of these groups post wish lists on social media and their websites. Share their social media posts to spread the word about critical items they need to take care of in an influx of animals due to increased pet surrenders.
- While closed to the general public, many Pennsylvania animal shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries remain open for by-appointment adoptions or virtual-based adoptions like the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area is doing here. Adoptions and fosters are more important now than ever as shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries may undergo temporary loss of staff and volunteers, limited resources and space, and a surge of animal intakes/surrenders.
- For equine rescues, please look at the Homes for Horses Coalition webpage and reach out to a location in your area to learn what they need.
- For farm sanctuaries, consider making a donation so they can purchase hay and feed for the animals.
Hurricane Katrina taught us in a profoundly tragic way that pet problems are inextricably intertwined with human issues. It is essential to integrate pets and animals in emergency planning during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are thankful to Governor Wolf for his recognition of this and his inclusion of pets in establishing guidance for PA’s families and businesses. To show appreciation and make his day, post of photo of you and your pet on social media, tag the Governor, use hashtag #StayatHome, and comment your thanks for including pets in his approach to contend with this outbreak. Our shelter partner, Humane Animal Rescue, posted steps to take for pet preparedness in the context of a pandemic.
Per Governor Wolf’s order, a business or nonprofit may take steps necessary to sustain life-including animal life. While practicing strict social distancing protocols, staff and volunteers may continue to provide essential veterinary care and health-related services, food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals. Businesses or organizations with questions as to their status can contact the PA Department of Community and Economic Development customer service for clarification at: email@example.com or 1-866-466-3972. Please share this resource as needed. Also, feel free to use the attached graphic to visually send the message about animal-related entities.
The pervasive nature and rapid escalation of the contagion spreading across the nation presents a clear imperative that the U.S. Congress needs to immediately pass the Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act, H.R. 1042. This bill would require all facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including commercial animal dealers, USDA-licensed commercial breeders, roadside zoos, and research labs, to have emergency response plans for the animals in their care when disaster strikes. Please contact your federal legislators and ask them to co-sponsor the PREPARED Act if they’re not already on this commonsense measure, and do all they can to get it enacted quickly.
There is more you can do to save animal lives: In addition to adopting and fostering, please support relief programs in your community and donate pet food and/or supplies to a local shelter or rescue group. Some shelters are launching emergency pet food response programs like the Washington Area Humane Society. On the eastern side of the state, GreaterGood.org is dispatching pet food and supplies through Humane Pennsylvania. Our Pets for Life program, which supports pet owners in underserved areas, has delivered supplies to senior and immobile clients and is modifying spay/neuter and other veterinary appointments to maintain crucial services within prescribed guidelines.
The founders of Lancaster Farm Sanctuary work hard every day to ensure all their animal inhabitants receive the highest level of care. Even in the midst of hard times, Jonina Turzi and Sarah Salluzzo continue to educate the public on farm animal welfare. Check out their sanctuary virtual tour – “meeting” these special animals will surely make you smile and feel inspired by some incredible rescue stories here. They always appreciate any donations!
Pennsylvania Wildlife Rehabilitators have had to cancel spring fundraisers and education programs which provide a large part of their operating budget. Many have also gone down to minimal volunteers which is putting an additional strain on them. Nearly all of the PA centers are currently open and accepting patients still. Please look at the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators webpage and reach out to a location in your area to learn what they need.
Many people are hurting financially now due to wage or job loss. Here is a list of organizations that provide financial support for pet owners. If you have a horse rescue, the following link provides information about grants for equine welfare organizations.
Please be assured that law enforcement, humane law enforcement, and the Pennsylvania State Police will continue to investigate animal cruelty and neglect crimes during this public health crisis. The PA Animal Response Team is compiling a list of resources that may be utilized to serve animal related requirements, such as the capability to house animals belonging to first responders or the ability to provide veterinary healthcare. Please refer suitable contacts here. The PA Animal Response Team is also encouraging pet owners to plan for their pets by making sure a neighbor, friend or family member is able to care for pets should they become ill. If you or anyone you know is in emergency need of pet supplies or care, please contact the county emergency management agency and ask for the support of the county animal response team.
Please feel free to share this information with shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries, legislators, and fellow advocates.
Stay safe and healthy,
Pennsylvania State Director, State Affairs