As we prepare for our grand-reopening amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are understandably questions and concerns about keeping safe. Rest assured, the safety of the pets in our care, our clients and team members has always been and continues to be RCO Pet Care’s priority. We will be observing the following Covid-19 safety precautions to resume service safely:
Basic Sanitation Practices
Employees should not touch their face, mouth, or eyes with their hands.
Until otherwise notified, RCO Pet Care employees are always to wear face masks when in a client’s home. The face mask may be removed when walking outside if social distancing of at least six (6) feet can be kept from others.
If a face mask makes a pet reactive or apprehensive, the mask may be removed to calm the animal. The mask should be reapplied as soon as it is safe. Talking to the pet in a soft, soothing voice through the mask and providing treats will help.
Hand Sanitizer and Gloves
Employees may choose one of the following options when entering a client’s home:
- A fresh pair of gloves can be put on just as a sitter enters a client’s home. Gloves cannot be used between households and must be removed prior to the next visit.
- Employees are to use hand sanitizer just prior to entering a client’s home. This is to be reapplied after exiting a client’s home.
Hand washing is to be completed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This should be done after coughing or sneezing as well as often as needed throughout the visit.
Handling of Equipment
Leashes and equipment (such as harnesses or collars that must be removed from a dog) will be disinfected after each use by the employee. We are happy to use a specific pet-safe cleaner if provided by the client. Due to the shortages in cleaning supplies, RCO Pet Care cannot guarantee provision of specific brands of products.
Prior to exiting a client’s home, employees will retrace their steps and disinfect surfaces they have touched such as door handles, crate latches and faucets.
Employees are required to keep a minimum of six feet between themselves and others. This includes clients, people walking on the road and other team members.
“No Contact” Policy
A “No Contact” Policy will apply to clients that are home when an RCO Pet Care employee arrives for a visit. Sitters and clients are to maintain a six (6) foot distance from one another. Whenever possible, the employee will call for the dog and have the dog greet them at the door to begin their walk. When this is not possible, the six (6) foot rule applies.
Sickness and Exposure
Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness will be removed from the schedule and will not return to work until they have been medically cleared to do so.
If an employee tests positive or has been exposed to COVID-19, RCO Pet Care management will inform employees or clients of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Meet and Greets
Initial Meet and Greets will be done virtually via Zoom. During this time, RCO Pet Care management will observe client and pet routines virtually. Virtual Meet and Greets will be followed up by a 5-10-minute outdoor, socially distanced meeting with the assigned primary pet sitter to exchange keys and meet the dog. Indoor cats will not be met prior to service to keep pets, clients and team members safe.
Current Research on Pets and COVID-19
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes COVID-19 may be spread to pets in very few, isolated cases. This has been seen in tigers at the Bronx Zoo, two domestic cats and most recently, a pug named Winston. Some of these animals remained asymptomatic while others (one of the cats and some of the large cats at the Bronx Zoo) experienced mild respiratory symptoms and have made a full recovery.
IDEXX, a leading provider of diagnostic products and services to veterinary practices, has “reviewed over 5,000 specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries. To date, IDEXX has seen no positive results in pets of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory outbreak in humans.”
At this time, the CDC has no evidence that animals can spread the virus to humans.
To summarize, pets are thought to be at an extremely low risk of catching COVID-19 from their dog walker or pet sitter. In an abundance of caution, however, employees will avoid face-to-face contact with pets and adhere to the safety precautions listed above. Dogs will never be allowed to socialize with other humans or dogs come across on their walks as per our usual policy.
Concerns and Questions
If you have specific COVID-19 safety precaution related requests or concern, there is now a designated space in each client’s Pet Portal to make notes. We will follow up to answer any client questions or to clarify requests.
We are here for you and are eager to make these adjustments to continue to provide the dog walking and pet sitting services our community has come to know, love and trust. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428 and we will be happy to help. We’ve got your tail!
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