In a pandemic, additional barriers affect the clients of Pets in the Park. You can’t isolate at home if you don’t have one. It’s hard to practice good hand hygiene if you don’t have ready access to soap and water. People living in cars may be traveling to hotspot areas and are unlikely to have a COVID-19 app to help with contact tracing.
The overriding question for Pets in the Park was: how can we provide safe services to our clients in this environment? Pets in the Park started working with the state government to develop a protocol that would help keep everyone safe. After five months off, the monthly clinic reopened on 2 August with new procedures.
All volunteers wore masks, while the vets and nurses wore gloves as well. We received a COVID safety brief, and a dedicated COVID officer was there to make sure everyone followed the new procedures. In our outdoor clinic, treatment areas were roped off, as was an open-air waiting area. We also had a designated intake area and admission area, with standing places marked in tape to encourage proper social distancing. Each treatment area had a folding chair for the client an appropriate distance away from the examining table.
New guidelines for clients included:
- Answering questions (Have you been to a hotspot? Do you feel unwell today?)
- Using hand sanitizer and masks
- Maintaining 1.5 meters social distance
- Refraining from hugging people or petting other animals
- Leaving the area immediately after their appointment rather than hanging out
Turns out I had no reason for concern: both the staff and clients performed remarkably well. Everyone was polite, kind, and compliant. (The rule we all found hardest to observe was the no-hugging and no-petting—it was just so nice to see everyone again.) We took care of 16 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 birds.
All photos courtesy of Pets in the Park