March 24, 2020
The nearly 300 shelter animals will continue to receive quality care; shelter officials affirm there is no evidence pets can contract or spread COVID-19.
The York County SPCA has taken steps to care for its employees’ health while still placing pets in loving, permanent homes. Scheduled adoptions and surrenders, a closed spay/neuter clinic, reduced staffing, and postponed fundraising and community events are just some examples.
“These are unprecedented times, and my team and I are having to make very difficult decisions,” says Steven Martinez, Executive Director of the York County SPCA. “Top of the list of difficult decisions is having to keep our high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic closed.”
Last year, the York County SPCA completed over 9,000 spay/neuter surgeries which significantly controlled the growth of York County’s dog and cat population. The clinic is complying with COVID-19 legislative guidelines to limit non-elective surgeries, which includes spay/neuter surgeries. “Recently,” Martinez said, “the U.S. Surgeon General put out a request to all veterinary medicine practitioners asking that we use our limited Personal Protective Equipment, or PPEs, for emergency situations only. And, unfortunately, we would have to close the clinic anyway.” For example, the York County SPCA only has enough surgical gloves for three days’ worth of normal high-volume clinic operation. “PPEs are all on backorder so we cannot get more supplies,” said Martinez. “We need to conserve our medical supplies for the animals currently under our care in case a life-threatening situation occurs.”
Although the clinic is temporarily closed, the rest of the shelter is open for business by appointment. For adoptions, they are asking the community to visit the York County SPCA Facebook page and view their videos of adoptable dogs and cats. Since the public can no longer visit the shelter and browse, their videos give viewers a sense of each animal’s personality and behavior traits. When people see an animal that piques their interest, they should complete the online adoption application: www.ycspca.org/adoption-application. After potential adopters complete the online application, a shelter staff member will call the potential adopter and schedule an in-person meet and greet with the pet.
Appointments are also required for anyone who wants to surrender an animal, volunteer, or become a foster. “We are still offering our usual community services like reuniting people with their lost pets and administering pet licensing; but to keep the staff and public healthy, we are asking that people call ahead and speak with a customer service representative to schedule an appointment or report an issue,” said Martinez. The number to call is 717-764-6109.
To ensure their shelter residents stay happy and active during this time, the York County SPCA has given extra focus to its animal enrichment program. Recently, staff and volunteers gave dogs homemade dog-friendly ice cream cups, threw a toy party for them, treated them with Busy Bones, and have been providing them with extra playtime outside of the kennel. All of this is in addition to the dogs’ usual daily walks with volunteers and even runs for healthy pets.
Recent policies aimed at slowing the spread of the virus are having a large financial impact on local nonprofits like the York County SPCA. When asked how the community can support the shelter, Martinez said, “To limit public exposure, we set a bin outside our front door where people can drop off donated items. Better yet, to maintain social distancing, we are asking that if you’re able, please consider making a financial contribution or utilize our Amazon Wish List.” You can find both at www.ycspca.org.
While domesticated animals are not impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, this is a good opportunity to review your pets’ role in your disaster preparedness plan. Both York County SPCA veterinary staff and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pet owners keep on hand the following: a two-week supply of food and water for each pet in your care; a two-week supply of each pet’s medications; and a ﬁle that contains each pet’s care plan, vaccination and ownership records, microchip information, and a preferred contact in case of emergency. People should also identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in the household becomes ill.
As this is a ﬂuid situation, the shelter asks that the public monitor its social media channels for regular updates. Martinez gives one final thought. “We are an animal shelter. We already know how to prepare for and deal with viral outbreaks. We will continue to adhere to our normal cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection protocols which have always exceeded extensive industry guidelines. I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and volunteers who have really stepped up in support of our mission. Our dedication stems from the love of animals. Given these uncertain times, we feel that companion animals are needed now more than ever. We will continue to show up and care for all the animals.”
Press Contact: Steven Martinez, Executive Director * 717-764-6109, Ext. 126 * firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the York County SPCA
The York County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization dedicated to providing long-term human and animal services to residents of York County through programs that find permanent, loving homes for displaced and stray animals, help control animal population growth, investigate and prosecute cruelty offenders and educate the general public about animal wellness and safety. We do not receive funding from the national ASPCA. We are a community resource supporting all York County residents and their animals. More at www.ycspca.org. View our Amazon Wish List.