March 13, 2020
We're sure you’re all following the news about COVID-19 (“coronavirus”), and we wanted to expand on what KC Pet Project is doing to prepare.  

Our President/CEO, Teresa Johnson, participates in several calls weekly with national animal sheltering industry groups that include shelter directors and high level representatives from all the major animal welfare organizations ( Petco Foundation, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, Association of Animal Welfare Administrators, Leadership Alive!, Best Friends Animal Society, etc. ) who are discussing what’s happening across the country and proactively working on plans should an outbreak impact our cities and, subsequently, our organizations. 

Animal Sheltering magazine recently released a Coronavirus Tool Kit , which is a helpful read for those of us working and volunteering in the shelter.
Take Care of Yourself
Please make it a top priority to take care of yourself and help keep each other healthy . These are some of the basics you probably already know: 
  • Wash your hands (for 20 seconds at a time)
  • Cover your mouth with your arm or sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home if you are sick. YOU are an important resource at KCPP and we want you all prioritizing your health, especially now
It’s important to keep in mind that we are all professionally prepared to deal with disease – as volunteers, you do it every day for the animals. View this as you would view a disease outbreak in the shelter – it’s just that this time, it is the people. We need to be prepared, communicate especially well with one another, and do what we can. 

Some specific things we are doing, and need volunteer support to continue doing: 
  • Wipe down areas you are working in both before and at the end of your volunteer shift if you are working at a desk or computer workstations
  • Clean public surfaces including desktops and door handles every day
  • Greet everyone enthusiastically but WITHOUT shaking hands (wave, bump elbows, air high-five, tap toes, …get creative). 
  • If you are sick, PLEASE STAY HOME. Your health is the most important thing to us.  

If you have symptoms  of acute respiratory illness such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue,  PLEASE STAY HOME .  
General recommended practices for staff and volunteers are:
  • Employees or volunteers who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to the shelter until they are free of fever (100.4° F) for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
  • Hand washing really works. Regular and frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before eating, after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing and after touching dirty surfaces is important. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and there is no visible dirt on your hands.
  • Practice good coughing and sneezing etiquette (using the inside bend of your elbow). If you use a tissue, use it once, throw it in the trash and then wash your hands.

Employees or volunteers who come to the shelter ill will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines. Please keep in mind that it will cause more harm if you come to volunteer while contagious. 
Taking Care of Animals
The World Health Organization announced that animals can NOT contract this illness. We are fortunate that controlling disease transmission is familiar to us. Our diligence in caring for ourselves by using good hygiene will help ensure animals don’t act as fomites for spreading illness to us. 

So, what's the single, most important thing the average person can do right now to help cats and dogs if coronavirus impacts our shelter operations for any reason?  FOSTER .

Sign up to foster . We’ll give you a crate and foster supplies. Decide where you'd keep a foster pet in your home. Let us know you can help when needed. Any time people feel general anxiety and uncertainty, they're less likely to want to make a lifelong commitment to a new family member. Even if no one in our community has coronavirus, just the simple fear and concern people are feeling right now might mean that adoptions decrease while intakes stay the same or increase. 

We should all be prepared to see higher-than-usual numbers of animals in our care in the coming weeks. This means we may need a lot of help to keep pets safe during this time. Our main focus at this point is on reducing the overall number of animals housed at the shelter. The reason for this is that the most likely impact is that intakes will increase while outcomes will slow, which is a predictable pattern that occurs any time people feel uncertain. Here are some of the things we are working on right now:
  • Foster placement - If you want to prepare to help if space becomes an issue, speak with our foster team and let them know if you’re available to help foster a pet for two to six weeks if needed. We provide crates, supplies and food and even help you get your pet adopted via marketing support. Sara Gillette manages our Canine Foster Program, and Lisa Kells manages our Feline Foster Program.
  • Reducing non-urgent intake - Last year, about 52% of the pets who entered our shelter were given up by their owners or brought in by the public as strays. We will be asking owners who are not facing an immediate crisis to hold onto their pets if they are able to surrender them at a later date. For any pet owners who need to surrender immediately, we will still take their pets at their scheduled intake time. And, we’ll begin asking people bringing in strays if they are able to temporarily foster their found pet and try to get the pet back home. This is something we have started doing whenever possible and it helps get pets home much more quickly without having to endure the stress of the shelter.
  • Adoption event - We will continue to hold reduced-fee adoption events to help reduce the population of pets in the shelter. The biggest thing that makes these events successful is YOU! Sign up to be a matchmaker, adoption support or lobby director and help people find their new best friends! And, share our events via social media far and wide.
  • Shelter preparedness - We are reviewing our continuity of operations plans in case we experience any operational disruptions. We are fortunate that controlling disease transmission is familiar to our staff and volunteers and our diligence in caring for ourselves by using good hygiene will also help our pets. This makes it important to wash our hands between handling animals and to frequently clean frequently used surfaces in the shelter, especially in the public areas.
Staying Informed
We will are still currently offering volunteer training opportunities (Dog 101/Cat 101, Feline/Canine Mentoring, etc.). We are monitoring recommendations from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) , and if we feel we need to suspend these for a time we will communicate this to everyone.

Any class or training cancellations will be communicated via email and Facebook (please make sure you have your Volgistics account set to accept email notifications).

We know this is a stressful time, and a lot of information is being thrown at us at once. We will share more as our plans change, or evolve. This is fast-moving, and thus information can change quickly.

We appreciate your support, and welcome any questions you have regarding volunteering at KC Pet Project during this time.
If you plan on volunteering at the shelter, you should be signing up in Volgistics

If you have issues with using the Volgistics calendar, or need help locating your PIN#, please reach out to Alyssa for further instruction. If you would like more guidance on how this website works, please view this video .