Special COVID-19 Update April 7th, 2020
Dear OPHS Supporters & Animal Lovers,
I must start out this update with some feel-good news that will hopefully put a big smile on your face as it has for all of us here at OPHS. As you know, we often have dogs that are more difficult to adopt, due to a proclivity to dislike other dogs, cats, children, etc. This was the case with Athena (pictured above). A very sweet, good girl, that had to be an only animal in the household. We have been caring for Athena for the better part of 6 YEARS! She even had her own "bedroom" at OPHS. All the staff and volunteers loved on her daily. Yesterday, she was finally adopted into her new forever home! Happily-ever-after is alive and well at OPHS!
Now, for the other updates. Things have been very hectic here, to say the least. Because we typically have a steady stream of people coming to the shelter, we have been very proactive in taking the necessary precautions revolving around COVID-19 to protect our staff and animals.

We made the first changes long before Governor Inslee’s “Stay at Home” declarations. Appointment-only visits along with a big push for adoptions and new foster parents began early. These last 2 weeks OPHS was completely closed to the public and only a few direct animal care attendants came into the shelter. No appointments were accepted whatsoever, with the exception of taking in injured or abused animals or animals brought to us by Animal Control. Additionally, no spay/neuter surgeries were scheduled so as to conserve PPEs in case they are needed elsewhere or at another t i me.
Like human healthcare workers, our direct care staff members are essential. And, let me tell you, these dedicated staff members have been pulling double duty. Some of our staff were quarantined due to potential exposure to an ill family member, or had mild flu-like symptoms themselves. We told the rest of our staff early on to stay home to prevent exposure to themselves or others. Right now and while we can, OPHS is managing to pay 100% of the staff under these very trying times, assigning at-home tasks and various program-related projects to keep them busy and employed. We have been applying for many COVID-19 grants from various private or corporate funders and are hoping to apply for the Payroll Protection Plan funds when our bank opens the application sometime this week. With the cancellation of Meowgaritas and Mutts fundraiser that typically brings in $200,000, we are very hopeful we can receive some funds to help with our restricted cash flow.

OPHS also has to be ready to take in animals whose owners are affected by COVID-19 and can no longer care for them or have family that can help. Working with Clallam County’s Emergency Management team, we have estimated what those needs may be and made appropriate handling and housing plans at the shelter.
As you may have heard, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, along with several other tigers and lions showing signs of infection.
Public health employees believe the large cats became ill after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus.

Additionally, 2 dogs in China and 2 cats (one in China and one in Belgium), have tested positive. However now, more than ever, it’s important to let science guide our decision making about communicability of the virus by or from our pets. Here’s what we know thus far:

  • While both cats and dogs can test positive, it is not believed that either can give humans COVID-19.

  • Humans may be able to give COVID-19 to animals. Out of an abundance of caution and until more is known about this virus, if you’re feeling sick and/or are infected with COVID-19, as hard as this may be, limit your exposure to your pets. If you are sick and must care for your pet or be around animals, wash your hands before and after the interaction and wear a cloth face mask. Don’t share food, and avoid slobbery kisses and hugs - at least until you are 100% better!

  • Be sure your pet is practicing social distancing from other people and pets. For their health, don’t let anyone outside of your own household pet your dog or cat. Take them on walks but keep 6 feet of distance from other pets and people.

Basically, we are trying to be abundantly cautious and be on the front end of this to prevent a possible pet pandemic. These precautions are important to follow, just as it is with our human population.
Regardless of COVID-19, you should have an emergency plan that includes your pets. Create a care tree for how your pets will be cared for should you become sick or hospitalized or have to evacuate your home.

  • Reach out to friends, family, neighbors and pet-sitters who can care for your pets, if needed. Have 2-4 options lined up in case they become sick or hospitalized or are unavailable.

  • Be sure to keep at least a 2-week supply of pet food and water for your pets, as well as any medications they may need.

  • Create a written emergency card for your pets. Include your name and contact information, your pet’s feeding schedule, any medical conditions and treatment instructions. List the contact information for your veterinarian and your back up caregivers.

  • If, in the case of an emergency that requires evacuation, along with a crate, include paperwork that shows your vaccination records and medication schedules. You will also need leashes, water and food bowls, litter box, etc.

  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and the contact information associated with the chip is up to date.

I hope this information helps to ease your mind about the health and safety of your pets during this challenging time. Thank you for staying informed about how the virus is impacting animals and for looking out for your pets. Be well, and know that we’ll continue to be here for the animals and the people in our community.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy,
Luanne Hinkle, Executive Director
P.S. If, at this time, you can help us with a donation, we would be very grateful.
Olympic Peninsula Humane Society | (360) 457-8206 |