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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two pet cats in New York and a Pug in North Carolina. Previously, the virus had been detected in a handful of other animals around the world.

The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have worked together to provide guidance regarding the risks to pets. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. However, in rare cases, it appears that humans can spread the virus to pets.

If you are sick with COVID-19, either suspected or confirmed by a test, the CDC recommends restricting contact with pets. When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets if you are ill. Avoid close contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, kissing, or sharing food or bedding with them while you are ill. If you must care for your pet while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a mask or cloth face covering.

Until we know more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other family members to prevent them from getting infected. Limit interactions with people and animals outside the household, walk dogs on a leash to maintain a 6 ft distance from others, avoid large gathering places such as dog parks, and keep cats indoors.

Testing of animals is not recommended unless deemed medically necessary by your local and state veterinarian. To date, Idexx Laboratories has tested over 4,000 samples from dogs, cats, and horses in their research studies and no evidence of coronavirus has been found.

COVID-19: ST FRANCIS UPDATES

Like many of you, we are longing for a return to normalcy. We continue to closely monitor the conditions of the pandemic and adjust our protocols accordingly to provide necessary veterinary care for your loved ones while still keeping everyone as healthy as possible.

Appointments

We are scheduling appointments for ill, sick, or injured pets; hospice and palliative care consultations; euthanasias; health certificates; essential laboratory testing; pain management; and time-sensitive visits including puppy or kitten core vaccine boosters, scheduled medical injections, pets who are due for Rabies or Leptospirosis, or appointments for those patients who are reaching 6-8 weeks overdue on other vaccinations. In addition, if you have recently adopted a new pet, we are happy to perform your pet’s post-adoption examination.

Most grooming facilities will be offering curbside service starting Monday, May 4th. If feasible, we ask you to schedule your pet’s nail trims at a grooming facility to allow us to utilize our limited technician appointments for essential veterinary care.

You will continue to receive reminders for your pets’ wellness services approximately one month prior to their due date. To accommodate those pets that need immediate care, we ask that you delay your pet’s visit until the actual due dates when feasible.

Important Notes:

  • Due to our small physical space and the need for social distancing, we anticipate that our curbside service will continue until at least June 30th.
  • We are asking that you wear a face mask or covering for all interactions with our team members. We commit to doing the same.
  • All appointments, including acupuncture and laser appointments, will be at the main St Francis location.
  • When you arrive to St Francis for an appointment or to pick up food or medication, please call the office at (651) 645-2808. When the auto-attendant picks up, press 4 to be connected to one of our team members. Please do not leave a voicemail or text as this will result in a longer than desired wait time.
  • Once we’ve taken your pet into the building, it is very important that you do not leave the parking lot. In order for us to provide care to as many pets as possible, we must be able to return your pet to your car as soon as we have finished care.

For more information about what to expect with our curbside service, please visit our previous posts on Facebook or our website/newsletter blog.

Surgical and Dental Procedures

We are beginning to schedule surgical and dental procedures on a case-by-case basis. We continue to be very cognizant of our use and conservation of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Contacting Us: Can You Help?

We understand your frustrations in reaching us via phone. Over the past few weeks, we are averaging over 750 incoming phone calls per day. We need your help!

  • For those who have arrived in the parking lot for an appointment or a medication or food pick up, please call us at (651) 645-2808 and press 4 to enter the call queue. You will hear hold music or ringing; you may also be asked to hold for the next available staff member to answer your call. Please do not leave a message or text us if you are waiting in the parking lot as this will result in a longer than desired wait time.
  • For appointment requests or refill requests, please leave a voicemail, send an email to group@stfrancisabh.com, or utilize our PetDesk or website request forms.
  • To update us on your pet’s stable condition or for questions that do not require an immediate answer, please consider sending an email to group@stfrancisabh.com or leaving a message in the general voicemail box. For all other immediate questions, please call us and press 4 to enter the call queue.

If you have not yet downloaded our PetDesk app, please visit the app store on your mobile device to do so. You may also visit our website at www.stfrancisanimalandbird.com for appointment requests, refill requests, and additional information about our COVID-19 protocols.

Revised Schedule

With the need for distancing between employees, we have continued to make necessary adjustments to our schedule to limit the number of employees within our small facility.

  • We will be closed on Saturday May 9th and Saturday May 16th.
  • Our future Saturdays will be open for wellness care and vaccines only to accommodate those pets who are at risk of lapsing on their vaccines. Pets who are ill or have emergency conditions will be scheduled for a weekly appointment or directed to an urgent care facility.
  • We are gradually increasing our overall appointment availability but will continue to have a limited team within the building until social distancing guidelines are relaxed. We are doing our best to accommodate as many appointments as possible, but we are limited. Please be aware that we may refer you to the Animal Emergency & Referral Center if we are unable to accommodate your pet’s urgent care visit. We may also ask you to delay your routine wellness visits if it is safe to do so.
  • During this time, some of our doctors and staff are temporarily working additional hours from home to assist our team in answering your messages, voicemails, emails, and PetDesk requests. We hope that this will help with our overall response times.

We appreciate your understanding and will continue to communicate with you as our availability changes.

Saying Goodbye: Euthanasia

  • We are allowing clients into the building on a case-by-case basis for euthanasias only as long as you or any of your family members are not ill, have not been ill, and have not been exposed to someone who is ill.
  • We are utilizing our largest exam room to allow as much social distancing as possible.
  • We are asking that only two family members be present.
  • Everyone present must wear a face mask.
  • We will create an individualized plan that is best for your pet and your family and communicate that plan with you before or during the appointment.
  • We are not performing home euthanasias during this time. Both MN Pets (https://www.mnpets.com or (612) 354-8500) and Blue Skies Pet (https://blueskiespet.com or (651) 332-4763) are still performing home euthanasias on a limited basis.

If you have individual questions regarding your pet’s situation, please reach out to us. We are here for you and want to support you in any way that we can during these difficult times.

Medications and Food

We are experiencing delays in receiving medications and pet food. Some items are now on backorder for an indefinite period of time. Please request refills of your pet’s medication and food 1-2 weeks in advance to allow time for it to arrive, whether you are ordering through St Francis or through our online store.

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We know that you all long for normal – without a doubt, we do too. Thank you so much for your patience, support and understanding as we try to care for as many patients as possible while still adhering to social distancing guidelines and providing a safe environment for our employees and clients alike. Your kind words and ongoing feedback have meant so much to us over the past weeks. We are very grateful for each and every one of you.