New Membership Fees- A Letter from Scott Giacoppo

New Membership Fees- A Letter from Scott Giacoppo

Dear fellow animal welfare professionals

We are living through some very difficult times right now, yet those of us in the animal care and control field are persevering. NACA is committed to being by the side of every single person putting themself at risk to continue serving the animals and people in their communities. We also recognize that there are many of you who want to serve but cannot due to lay-offs, furloughs, reduced hours and slashed budgets.

With these challenges in mind, NACA is giving everyone the opportunity to share in the unity we provide and the benefits afforded to all members at a more reasonable cost. We have decided to cut our annual membership fee of $50 in half to $25, or only $20 if you are a member of a member state-affiliated association!

When we offered a free three-month trial membership in March, the response was overwhelming! Close to 900 people signed up and many began immediately accessing our benefits, such as viewing the archived training webinars that were conducted in partnership with the Justice Clearinghouse.

We took this immense interest as a sign that if NACA were more affordable, more people would join in our fight to bring our field the pride, professionalism and unity it deserves.  To those of you who signed up as a full member sometime after March 1, we are extending your membership to a two-year, fully paid membership giving you an additional year of benefits.

While times are tough out there, they are also tough here at NACA. We have been forced to cancel far too many of our NACHO training classes that we do in partnership with Code 3 (cancelling just one is too many in my book!). These trainings are not only our longstanding pledge to you to provide world-class animal control and humane law officer certification training, they also represent a significant source of our annual revenue.

So why would cutting fees now be sensible? Wouldn’t the more advisable path be to increase costs?

Perhaps, but that doesn’t sit right with me, not when I meet and talk to officers, shelter staff and advocates who are living paycheck to paycheck yet still want to be a part of the NACA family.

NACA’s strength has always been and will continue to be in our numbers. I know that not only will we get through these dark times, we will get through them together as one.

 

Stay safe and stay proud.

 

Scott Giacoppo

Board President,

National Animal Care and Control Association

Wildlife During COVID-19

Wildlife During COVID-19

NACA has received questions regarding interactions with wildlife during COVID-19. Here is what we have learned from the nation’s leading experts on wildlife and COVID-19.

First, it is important to remember that at this time the most likely route of exposure is between two human beings.  Wildlife is, by nature, usually leery of humans which means their contact time with an infected/shedding individual is going to be minimal.

At this time, there is an unknown risk level associated with wildlife and their ability to carry the virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.  Animal Care & Control professionals may be required to interact with sick, injured, or displaced wildlife as part of their essential duties, and because of the unknown risk, they should do so with an abundance of caution.  Following the PPE guidance provided in the NACA Statement on Officer Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic is recommended to ensure Animal Care & Control staff safety when interacting with wildlife.

Additionally, NACA recommends stopping intake of all ‘nuisance’ wildlife and not interacting with healthy wildlife unless absolutely necessary.

NACA will continue to monitor the recommendations associated with Wildlife and COVID-19, and encourages you to review the following resources related to the topic:

AFWA
NCWCOA

Start of Animal Care & Control Appreciation Week- THANK YOU!

Start of Animal Care & Control Appreciation Week- THANK YOU!

Animal services staff members are first responders who are endowed with a unique opportunity: not only do these hardworking people tirelessly protect the welfare of helpless animals that endure injury, disease, abuse, and starvation, but they also protect the people in their communities by enforcing animal control laws, preventing the spread of disease, educating the public on proper pet care.

National Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week, celebrated annually during the second full week of April, is an opportunity for animal care and control personnel, and the communities that they serve, to acknowledge and celebrate the essential services that these fearless people provide day in and day out.

This year’s National Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week is an especially important one, as animal control officers and shelter staff everywhere continue to work on the front lines to navigate the unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are just a few pictures of animal care and control officers and shelter staff across the country who, like other emergency and essential personnel, are showing up to work—risking their safety to go above and beyond for the animals and people that they are committed to serving. While some of them have personal protective equipment (PPE), others do not. While some of them are performing harrowing animal rescues, others are working hard to operate pet food pantries and other outreach efforts for their communities. While some of them are the only healthy and working officer on their force, others continue to work closely together while abiding by safe social distancing practices.

Even though these photos depict the wide range of issues and challenges that animal care and control and shelter personnel are facing, there is one thing that they all have in common: each of these incredible humans is out there, doing what they can, to ensure the safety and protection of all of the beings in their care.

On behalf of everyone at NACA, we thank you for your selfless service and for putting your lives on the line for the animals and humans alike who depend on you.

What we know about pets and SARS-CoV-2:

What we know about pets and SARS-CoV-2:

The American Veterinary Medical Association put an updated statement addressing the SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets. This statement provides some excellent information that provides clarity to many of the questions we have heard from animal services staff, volunteers, and the community at large.

The main takeaways are:

  • Current expert understanding is that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted person-to-person.
  • There is no evidence that dogs and cats naturally infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) spread it to other pets or people.
  • There is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified unless there is a risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately. The best place for pets is at home.
  • If you are ill with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals.
  • Despite over one million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, we have only seen examples of two dogs, one cat,, and one tiger with positive tests for infection as a result of suspected natural spread.

 

As always, our top priority is the health and safety of our animal services staff and the communities (including pets) that we serve.  It is for this reason that we are asking animal services, especially municipal shelters or shelters, holding a municipal contract to adhere to emergency field operations only.  This means limiting calls for service to public safety concerns, sick/injured animal calls, and legally mandated quarantines that cannot take place outside the shelter.  As we begin to see larger numbers of people impacted by COVID-19, we must prepare for the possible influx of COVID exposed animals to our shelters.

The first thing animal services agencies should be doing to prepare for this potential influx is communicating the urgency for pet owners to have a plan.  Pet owners should develop an action plan for what will happen to their pet if they are to fall ill and are unable to provide care, including the name and contact information for a family member or friend who has agreed to provide care.  Here is a sample outline for such a plan.

In the event that pets must come into a shelter, municipal shelters and those holding municipal contracts are most likely to have staff appropriately trained and equipped to deal with infectious disease outbreaks.  These organizations should also have a veterinarian on staff or a contract with a veterinarian who can provide medical oversight/guidance for the reduction of spread. The key points regarding this type of intake transition are:

  • Quarantine facilities should only be taking in sick/injured animals, animals exposed or potentially exposed to COVID-19, and animals on legally mandated rabies quarantine that cannot take place outside the shelter.
  • Local Non-Profit Shelters (not operating government contracts), rescue organizations, and foster networks should be utilized to take in and house healthy stray and owner surrender pets.
  • Animals taken in for COVID-19 quarantine should be housed in isolation (separated from all other animals housed at the facility) for 14 days before transitioning to other placement options, including short- or long-term foster care.
Cat and Kitten Intake During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cat and Kitten Intake During the COVID-19 Pandemic

One of the main concerns we have been hearing this week surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic is timing.  No time is ideal, but on the precipice of puppy/kitten season, really?!? Consistent messaging from the leading experts on the subject of intake is Emergency Intake Only! The position statement from NACA on the issue has been endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine Program, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, University of Florida- Shelter Medicine Program, The Humane Society of the United States, and many more. All that being said, what we continue to hear is, “What about the abandoned kittens?” First, are we 100% sure they are abandoned?  Information that has been shared over the years continues to show us just how unlikely unweaned kittens are to be truly abandoned.  Whenever possible, kittens should be left to the care of their mothers.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in North Carolina put together a video on this issue, which is easily shared via social media with your communities. If kittens do enter the system, get them out as quickly as possible.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine Program, in conjunction with the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, has put together a fantastic sheet of recommendations on the intake of kittens during COVID-19. These recommendations will aid in animal services departments balancing human and animal health and safety. Our communities and volunteers are fantastic supporters of the work we do every day, during this time of crisis we must engage them in pushing out the “Don’t Kit-Nap” or “Leave them Be” messaging.  Pasco County Animal Services in Pasco County, FL, has had tremendous success with their “Leave them Be” program, and I know their Assistant Director Spencer Conover is always happy to discuss their model.  Another group doing fantastic work with community cat programming is the Humane Rescue Alliance; their Director of Regional Outreach (who also happens to be on the board of NACA), Alice Burton is a genuinely amazing person and a fantastic resource when it comes to moving cats and kittens out of your shelters as quickly as possible. The key messages surrounding cats and kittens during this pandemic are:

  1. Only bring them into your care if it is an absolute emergency, and you have exhausted all other options.
  2. If you do bring them in, especially the kittens requiring intensive care, get them back out as quickly as possible
  3. Our priority during this pandemic must be the health and safety of our human staff and citizens first, and one way we can aid in keeping our teams safe and healthy is by encouraging citizens to “Leave them Be”
  4. We understand and acknowledge the communities concern surrounding the potential for an increased number of kittens this season due to the suspension of SNR services. These concerns are shared by many, but our priority at this time must be on the health and safety of staff and citizens, a conscious effort will be made to make up for ground lost in the area of SNR once we return to normal operations.
COVID-19: Risks to the Animal Services Professional

COVID-19: Risks to the Animal Services Professional

A top priority of Animal Services agencies on any given day is the safety and well being of our teams, and this could not be more true during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Knowledge is power, and as we learn more and more about the virus that causes COVID-19 we have come to understand that the direct risk for our animal care workers has been reduced.  According to the CDC “[a]t this time, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets.”  This information allows us to take a deep breath (metaphorically, as we don’t want to breath in any potential contagions) when it comes to our animal care teams caring for animals coming into our facilities from the community, but what about our staff members interacting directly with the public?

Animal Services agencies have multiple staff members who are interfacing with the public in a variety of ways, but customer service team member and animal control field officers are among those who interact fact-to-face with the public most frequently.  Customer service team members can mitigate risk through use of appropriate persona protective equipment (PPE), scheduled services such as adoptions, foster pick-up, or pet reclaims, and limiting face-to-face contact as much as possible by using drive through type service arrangements.  Field operations staff on the other hand are out in the community and may encounter any number of situations.

Animal Control Officers (ACO) and other Animal Services Field Operations personnel are some of the front-line employees most likely to encounter situations in which there is a know or suspected positive case of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Here is a situation that we know as happened in many communities across the United States:

An ACO receives an assist other agency call and responds to find that they are being asked to enter the home of a known or suspected positive COVID-19 patient in order to retrieve an animal due to the owner being transported to a medical facility for admittance and care.  There are no family members or neighbors who have entered the home and are able to assist.  The ACO must enter the home to retrieve the canine. 

In an ideal situation this ACO will have all appropriate PPE including gown, mask, and gloves that can be put on before entering and disposed of once the animal is secured on their vehicle.  What we are hearing however is that in many communities PPE is limited, and Animal Control staff are not necessarily making the cut to receive any.  This is unacceptable.  ACOs are first responders and when put in a situation such as this they should be afforded any and all necessary to complete their job in the safest manner possible.

NACA acknowledges that our nation is facing a PPE shortage and encourages all Animal Services agencies to discontinue non-essential surgical/other medical and operations procedures requiring the use of PPE.  This does not however include field operations.  Situations like the above are essential operations and ACOs or other Animal Services Field Operations personnel must be appropriately outfitted to execute their essential job functions safely.

Dr. Fisher has an educational background in population management/medicine, public health, veterinary sciences, informatics, and healthcare administration. He has been working in the veterinary medical/animal welfare field for over 15 years holding management roles in private practices, cooperate practices, the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, county government, and now as the Animal Services Director for the City of Charlotte/Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. A strong advocate for professional development and growth in the animal welfare industry, Josh seeks to involve staff in continued education and training opportunities as well as in cutting edge industry research. His professional interests focus on disease reduction/prevention, advanced marketing/placement and intake reduction tactics, strategic planning, and staff career development in the area of animal welfare. His projects include increasing interest of veterinary/veterinary technician students in the animal welfare industry as well as working with community veterinarians to break down barriers, develop relationships, and increase involved in community focused animal welfare (animal control and sheltering) practices. It is a passion of Josh’s to bring a level of awareness to the animal welfare industry in such a way that young adults and college students make the decision to pursue animal welfare as a profession rather than falling into it by chance. ​