The virtual world has entered the pet services industry, due to COVID-19. Dr. Scott Beeman and staff, from the Adel Veterinary Clinic, have made many changes to the process of giving care to their patients, but they are committed to providing the same quality care.
“Veterinarians are dedicated to the protection of public health,” Beeman said. “All of the veterinarians and staff at Adel Veterinary Clinic will continue to provide care to our patients in whatever ways we can during this pandemic.”
In March, the Adel Veterinary Clinic instituted curbside service to protect their clients and staff. The logistics of the curbside service has evolved as needed to minimize the risk of person-to-person spread of COVID-19.
“When Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered that all non-essential procedures be delayed, we shifted to only performing emergent and critical care in the clinic,” Beeman said.
Pet owners call the clinic upon arrival and discuss their pet’s history and symptoms with a veterinary assistant or technician. There is a holding area where clients drop off their pets and return to their vehicles. A staff member then enters the holding area and safely brings the animal into the clinic for care. One of the veterinarians calls the client to discuss findings and recommendations.
The process in the holding area is reversed when it’s time to pick up a pet. Payment is collected via phone as well.
“The holding area is then thoroughly disinfected between clients,” Beeman said. “Our staff is utilizing washable, reusable personal protective equipment whenever it is warranted.”
The Adel Veterinary Clinic is offering online chat through their website, https://adelvet.com/. Clients may ask the staff questions and be triaged to either in-clinic care or telemedicine through video consultation.
“I have been offering telemedicine from my home since the last week of March as a way to provide care to our patients with non-emergent conditions,” Beeman said.
To make sure the pet’s needs can be met through telemedicine, they are asking their clients to contact them through the free live chat widget in the lower-right corner of their website. If telemedicine is deemed appropriate for the case, the telemedicine consult fee is collected and a link to the telemedicine portal is sent via text message or email.
“This allows me to talk to the client and visualize the pet for a virtual exam and consultation,” Beeman said. “I can also prescribe medications for either curbside pickup at the clinic or home delivery through our online store.”
If a pet needs hands-on care or diagnostics, Beeman can refer the pet to their clinic.
Beeman shed some light on the concern of pets making humans sick with the virus that causes COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to humans. However, this is under ongoing investigation.
“There have been isolated cases of dogs and cats in other parts of the world testing positive for the virus, but these animals did not show any symptoms of COVID-19,” said Beeman. “Last week, a group of lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo developed respiratory symptoms. One of these tigers tested positive for the virus.”
Beeman said there may be other animal species who have higher susceptibility to the virus than others. Good hygiene is still the most important thing to practice, Beeman added. For healthy individuals, wash hands thoroughly after handling pets or any of your pet’s toys or food.
“Don’t share food with your pets or allow them to lick your face,” Beeman said.
For sick individuals, arrange for a healthy person to care for pets. If this is not possible, limit contact with pets to protect them from exposure. Wash hands prior to and after handling pet’s food, toys, bedding, or kennel.
The clinic’s hours have increased to provide more access to veterinary care. Their current hours are, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week. Telemedicine is available Monday - Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
“We are utilizing our Facebook page to provide updates, as well as much-needed cute pictures and videos of our patients,” Beeman said. “[Pets] help us cope with stress, lower our blood pressure, and provide important companionship at a time when many are feeling isolated due to social distancing. Enjoy this time with your pets to the best of your abilities.”
AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport and Gracie’s Place
AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport, out of De Soto, is a foster-based animal rescue that has also been affected by COVID-19. AHeinz57, founded by Executive Director Amy E. Heinz, takes in homeless dogs and cats for most of Dallas County and counties west, south, and north of Dallas County. They provide animal control services, free of charge, for Dallas County. They also pull dogs from kill shelters who are scheduled to be euthanized.
“I started AHeinz57 in August of 2008 after moving here from California and finding out that there was nobody helping homeless dogs in my community, while trying to help a dog dumped on the Interstate,” Heinz said.
Heinz witnessed the dog being dumped on the Interstate the day before Easter Sunday in March of 2008. She details her entire dog rescue at https://www.aheinz57.com/amazing-grace/.
“Homeless and shelter animals have no idea there is a pandemic, so we are just as busy as we usually are,” Heinz said.
Heinz said at the beginning of March, adoptions dropped dramatically, but now that people are stuck at home, people have shown a greater interest in adopting or fostering a pet.
“COVID-19 just might be the best thing to happen to shelter pets,” Heinz said.
Heinz has taken precautions during COVID-19. Since the beginning of March, volunteers and staff are not allowed in the buildings for two weeks if they have been out of state. They also remain out for two weeks if they have been around someone who has been out of state. They have a sanitizing schedule at the end of each shift. There are four shifts per day.
“We are practicing the six-foot distancing, and when we can’t, we wear masks and gloves,” Heinz said.
They are also changing their process of pet adoptions and fostering, including doing home visits virtually through FaceTime or Facebook Messenger. The home visits are done to make sure someone’s home is a good fit for the animal they are interested in. Adoption paperwork is being done via email.
“We are doing meet and greets outside in fenced areas,” said Heinz. “Cats are a little trickier. Only one person from a family is allowed inside at a time to meet cats and they are questioned about their health and whereabouts.”
Due to COVID-19, AHeinz57 is operating on less money. Some of their programs had to be stopped. They have had to lay off a few of the shelter staff and they don’t have as much inventory to send home to the foster families, like cleaning supplies and cat litter.
“We are in desperate need of financial donations and supplies that are listed on our wish list on Amazon,” said Deb Elings, the AHeinz57 Board President. “People can drop off donations at our doors or mail to our building at [Gracie’s Place] 4000 Ash Street, DeSoto, IA 50069.”
AHeinz57 also owns Gracie’s Place where they offer boarding and grooming services. Gracie’s Place is located right next to the animal rescue. All funds received at Gracie’s Place go to fund the animal rescue at AHeinz57.
Their boarding building is essentially empty right now, which is hurting them financially. This is usually their busy season.
“We are now part of Dallas County Emergency Management, so we are able to accept dogs [and] cats that need care for people of Dallas County that are in the hospital due to COVID-19,” Elings said.
They will also board animals for first responders and healthcare workers if their hours increase and they struggle to get home to care for their pets.
“If Dallas County residents are having trouble making ends meet and can’t afford to feed their pets, we can provide them with cat or dog food to get them through this tough time,” Heinz said. “We want to help keep pets in their homes!”