LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - When animal control responds to a pet retrieval at a home that housed a person with COVID-19, they have to use the utmost caution.
KLTV spoke with a veterinarian at the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center about recovery procedures and the use of personal protective equipment at the shelter, which has become the Next Normal.
Christine Prior deals with PPE every day she’s on duty, and makes sure fellow employees are protected.
“What I told all my staff when all this started is is that my No. 1 goal is keeping them safe. You know we still have to be here to serve the animals, but I really need for my staff to be healthy,” Prior said.
Prior performs surgery on animals nearly every day at the shelter.
But if those in the field need to go into a home where someone was sick from COVID-19, they are ready with a go-bag that they keep with them at all times which includes:
“Tyvek suit, booties for their shoes, N95 masks, eye protection, you know, gloves, trash bags,” Prior said.
The go-bags are equipped with all that, and some extra gear as well.
“Any time we’re handling the animals we immediately bathe them because there is a possibility the virus can live outside of the human body on fur and things like that,” Prior said.
Actually they do that for all dogs coming in to the center, and some animals are quarantined. Employees:
“Watch them for symptoms. You know then those few cases where animals have tested positive and a couple of those may have been symptomatic,” Prior said.
Prior has had plenty of training on infectious disease.
“You never know how things can change with diseases and viruses so we’re just monitoring for things like that,” Prior said.
Gowns used inside the center can be sterilized and reused. And employees at the center have to be prepared.
“They’re on call, and so the ones that we have taken in it was a Sunday evening. And so the animal control officer comes in on her on call, her day off but on call, and recovers the animals and we came in to intake them at the shelter,” Prior said.
All PPE used for the retrieval of a pet exposed to COVID-19 is disposed of properly and not reused.
So the Next Normal for animal shelters is PPE on everyone at work, and covering head to toe to recover animals exposed to COVID-19.
So far, the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center has responded to one pet recovery from an exposed home. Two dogs were recovered and surviving family members elected to have the animals put to sleep since they were about 15 years old and in poor health.