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Animal Services Modifications Due to Positive Test for COVID-19

Post Date:05/13/2020 9:09 AM

The Guilford County Animal Shelter (GCAS) announced today, individual(s) working at the shelter have tested positive for COVID-19. The individual(s) are self-quarantining per Guilford County Department of Health guidelines. During the pandemic, GCAS has continued to provide essential services which are necessary to protect human health and safety. To limit exposures while providing services and essential care for shelter animals on a 24/7 schedule, the shelter implemented several safety precautions early on. Since mid-March, Guilford County Animal Services has implemented protective measures for staff, volunteers and the public and has been operating on split schedules to reduce the number of staff and citizens at risk of falling sick with COVID-19.

“We have been preparing for this potential situation since the pandemic started”, said Jorge Ortega, Guilford County Animal Services Director. “GCAS has been and will continue to be an essential public service. We will continue to help the animals in our community while ensuring those pursuits are not posing undue risks. By implementing rotating shifts early on, we have ensured that several teams that were not exposed and continue to provide seamless care to the animals.” Ortega shared that “Our additional early efforts - adoptions by appointment, using a curb-side approach for pick-up of animals, outside donation site locations, increasing transfers to our rescue partners and temporary suspensions of the volunteer program limited the number of persons in the buildings making a COVID-19 exposures less likely to the general public, while preserving essential workers to care for the animals at the shelter”.

According to GCAS, the individual(s) tested positive for COVID-19 the week of May 4-8, 2020.The animal shelter is working with the Guilford County Department of Public Health regarding when the individual(s) will be able to return to work. As a precautionary measure, COVID-19 testing for all Animal Services staff started earlier this afternoon. Guilford County Animal Shelter has suspended adoptions until further notice to protect the staff and public.

Operational Changes that have immediately gone into effect as of today to allow for a deep cleaning of the buildings include:

Public surrendering STRAY animals will continue with no appointment needed.

  • All surrenders will take place at the main gate.
  • ACO will be assigned to collect animal(s) and have public fill out paperwork.
  • ACO will transport animal(s) to Intake.
  • All essential/emergency animal intakes will continue.
  • Will not receive animals that have been trapped by the public.

Public claiming animals require no appointment. (Bite Observations & RTOs)

  • “Curbside” approach to the lost/found process continues.
    • Public must check in with Security/Check Point
      For the safety of everyone, visitors are strongly encouraged to wear face masks.
      • Staff will meet the public outside/parking lot
      • Staff will continue to practice Social Distancing
      • Proper PPE will be worn during public interactions
      • Public will be restricted/limited from entering the building

Adoptions will be suspended through May 19th or until test results are back.

  • Public with scheduled appointments will be contacted and rescheduled.
  • Animals that have already been adopted will remain at the shelter until test results are back.
  • Public will be restricted/limited from entering the property.

Animal Control Officers will continue to respond to emergency and high priority calls only.

  • All essential/emergency animal intakes will continue.
  • Animal Control will not respond to calls concerning healthy dogs running at large. ACOs will respond to injured and/or sick animals running at large.
  • Will not receive animals that have been trapped by the public.

Owned pet surrender appointments suspended.

  • All essential/emergency animal intakes will continue.
  • Will not receive animals that have been trapped by the public.
  • Public will be restricted/limited from entering the building.

Volunteer Program is suspended.

  • No volunteers will be allowed at the shelter at this time.

Community Outreach and special events are suspended.

  • Some community outreach events might be scheduled to help pet owners access needed resources for them to keep their pets.
    • Continue use of face coverings in public spaces when 6 feet of distancing isn’t possible.

Medical services.

  • Surgery is suspended until further notice.

Continue teleworking policies.

  • Select staff will be allowed to work from home when needed.

The Guilford County Animal Services Department would like to remind citizens that it is important to continue to take measures to help reduce the spread of this virus: washing hands often for at least 20 seconds, covering your cough/sneeze, frequently sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, staying home if you are sick and practicing social distancing, which means remaining at least 6 feet from others when in public. Social distancing is a key practice everyone should adhere to to reduce the spread of the virus.

Citizens exhibiting coronavirus symptoms should call the Guilford County Coronavirus Hotline at 336-641-7527 to be prescreened by a public health professional and possibly scheduled for a COVID-19 test. If you have a primary care physician, contact their office prior to going there to find out what their protocol is for their patients who feel they may need to be tested.

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