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Thursday, April 23, 2020

KANAB, UT—As coronavirus/COVID-19 continues to plow its ruthless path across the United States, the topic of preparedness, or the lack thereof, is discussed continuously. While there are many levels of preparedness we can’t control, as individuals, family members, friends and neighbors—as pet guardians-- there are things we must do to be ready for when we are personally touched by this crisis. But what happens if caregivers get sick?

Best Friends Animal Society has assembled a Pet Preparedness Plan, available in English and Spanish, to help pet parents ensure that they have the resources, supplies and plans in place to ensure continued maintenance of the pets in their care whether they’re unable to leave the house, too sick to function at home, or become hospitalized. Best Friends also offers remote access to veterinary consultation?services through their Vet Access app.

An estimated eighty-one million?American?households?share their homes with 173?million dogs and cats.?This represents 2/3 of all households in the U.S. Add to that the tens of thousands of dogs and cats newly in foster homes over the last few weeks, and that’s a lot of pets relying on a lot of people.

“We know from past experience in emergencies that people don’t want to leave their pets behind,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society. “We want to give them every opportunity to feel confident that if they have to go to the hospital, their pets are in good hands. This is part of a community fabric that we’re trying to build now where people know they can rely on their neighbors and friends. With everything shut down, oftentimes the only people you can turn to are those close by. That community structure is going to be what gets us through this crisis. Please spread the word, as this can save human and animal lives.”

The Pet Preparedness Plan includes a list of what supplies to have prepared, including:

A two-week supply of your pet’s food, medications and additional necessities, such as cat litter

A carrier for small animals or special diet-related treats and supplements.

Updated vaccination records, a medication schedule (if relevant) and contact information for your veterinarian’s office.

Detailed pet care notes, including feeding and walking routines and important notes about your pet’s behavior

 The plan also offers information on how to care for your pet if you are diagnosed or have symptoms of COVID-19, how to make a plan if you need an alternate caregiver for pets and an emergency pet care authorization form in case you are hospitalized. It’s important to help make sure friends, relatives and neighbors have a plan and the items stocked to care for their pets. It’s especially vital to support seniors, as they may be the least able to run to the store for pet supplies and are most vulnerable to the virus.

What if the person is healthy, but the pet gets sick? Although?multiple health organizations have stated that pets and domestic animals are not at risk for spreading COVID-19, that doesn't mean pets won't have any other health issues while local?veterinarians are closed or operating with limited hours or?emergency-only access.

If someone has concerns about their own animal or their foster pet,?the Best Friends?Vet?Access?app?lets them connect immediately with a licensed?veterinarian via phone or video call,?powered by?Vets Plus More. They can even text with quick questions.??

The app can be downloaded from the Apple or Android store using?code BFHELPS.? It's free for 30 days with a credit card number but if they delete the account before the 30 days expires, they will not be charged the $12.99 monthly fee. Download the app for free here:?bestfriends.org/best-friends-vet-access Thanks to Maddie’s Fund, this service is now available for FREE to fosters working with any animal shelter or rescue group in the country (while licenses last).

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