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.
Animal control and animal welfare in general have been forced to think outside the box for years, and COVID-19 is no different. In fact, this pandemic has sparked many agencies to begin following some of the nationally-recognized and growing best practice models. These include reducing the number of animals housed in physical sheltering facilities and increasing the numbers being routinely housed in foster care and in the community.
The National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) is striving daily to ensure that we are providing each of our members as well as other animal control officers across the country with the support and information they need.
As of now NACA has published the following list of position statements, which are intended to provide guidance to shelters struggling to make sound decisions that balance lifesaving and animal control functions. They are:
NACA is also working actively with our partner organizations on the national level to develop and distribute information. We have worked with organizations such as American Pets Alive, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (The Association), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Best Friends Animal Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Maddie’s Fund, and many more. Here are a few links to tool kits that may help you in developing policies, procedures, and programs in order to maintain or enhance your operations during this pandemic:
Now we want to hear from you, the members that we serve and who are boots on the ground getting the essential work done during this challenging time! What are your current fears, concerns, and needs? How can NACA help? Please share in the comments below what information NACA can work on pulling together to aid you in the best way possible. We are here as a resource for you and we want to ensure that we are providing you with the most impactful position statements, letters of support, and information that you can use to influence, encourage, and directly implement change to ensure the good work you do day in and day out not only survives, but thrives in this time of need!
For the safety of our officers and the public they serve, NACA is advising all officers to take
extra measures to mitigate the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These
measures include protecting themselves properly to reduce risk of spreading the virus, as well
as working to manage and minimize the number of new animals entering our shelters.
As members of the public safety community we have an obligation to perform our sworn duties
during disasters both natural and man-made. To that end, NACA recommends the following:
High priority/emergency calls: At this time, officers should continue to respond to emergency
and high priority calls. High priority/emergency calls include law enforcement assistance,
injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous
and aggressive dog complaints.
Non-emergency calls and activities: Officers should suspend low priority/non-emergency
activity. This includes non-aggressive stray animal pick-up, leash law and licensing complaints,
barking and nuisance complaints, trapping and transport of community cats, and conflict
Shelter intake reduction: Animal control agencies should take active measures to reduce nonessential
shelter intake. Measures taken should include returning pets in the field instead
of impounding them, suspending non-emergency owner surrender intake, and encouraging
owners who are ill to keep their pets at home whenever possible.
Personal protective equipment: Animal control officers should be provided with personal
protective equipment (PPE) for cases requiring a response to a location with someone who is
sick or has been exposed to COVID-19. Officers should make every effort to not enter the home
of anyone who is known to have been exposed to the virus.
View More NACA Announcements & Resources
For ongoing information, please continue referring to all updates from the Centers for Disease
Law Enforcement Officers make numerous public contacts during their shifts, but Animal Control Officers make four (4) times as many contacts during the same time period.
Result: 4 times the exposure equals 4 times the possible liability.
Well trained animal control & humane law enforcement officers will display the proper image because they have learned what image is and understand its necessity and usefulness.
NACA 2019 Conference – Navigating a Changing Landscape
Recorded Audio Sessions & DVDs
If you missed our exciting conference in Orlando, or would love a refresher to stay inspired and share what you learned from our line-up of experts, you can listen to recorded sessions. Downloadable audio files or audio / DVD combos are available. Listen on your computer or mobile device, from the comfort of your home, your car, or anywhere!
Choose a package to fit your learning needs:
The unfortunate incident that occurred last week in which police officers pepper-sprayed a domestic cat could have been avoided with proper training
Law enforcement officers are trained for a variety of different situations; however, rarely are expected to interpret animal behavior. In this incident, the body camera footage shows a cat displaying non-aggressive and social feline behaviors.
Animals have become an integral part of the family and community, so it is extremely important for law enforcement to receive training on these increasingly frequent encounters. Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive training programs or training requirements for law enforcement officers nationwide. Keeping people and animals safe requires collaboration between law enforcement and animal control professionals. It is vitally important that law enforcement calls upon animal control professionals to assist them during animal involved incidents. Animal control officers are familiar with normal and aggressive animal behavior, and they have the equipment and training necessary for safe, humane animal handling.
We urge law enforcement and animal control to work together to avoid such incidents in the future.
President Trump signs the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which revises and expands criminal provisions with respect to animal crushing.
It is with excitement, anticipation and great honor that I now serve you as your President for 2020.
A new day begins for NACA as we strengthen our focus on the needs of our membership through better benefits, training, and alliances with state associations, and other industry partners. As I look ahead to 2020, I will be laser-focused on growing our membership, while developing new programs that will invest in your careers and future.
NACA’s true strength comes from you, our members! If you are not a member, please consider joining today and help us build a great organization that will continue to serve the men and women in animal care & control!
Please know that we value you, and we are here to help you, listen to you, and engage you. Investment in NACA, as a member, will be well worth the value.
NACA President 2019/2020
2019 NACA Awards
Congratulations to all the 2019 Award Receipients!
Agency / Organizational Awards
2019 Outstanding State Association – Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers
2019 Outstanding Animal Care and Control Agency – Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department
2019 Outstanding Law Enforcement Agency Award – Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
2019 Community Leadership Award – David Dallahon
2019 Animal Welfare Leadership Award – Ryan Soulsby
2019 Veterinarian of the Year – Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore
2019 Prosecutor of the Year – Michelle Welch
2019 Bill Lehman Memorial Award – Amanda Giese
2019 Diane Lane Memorial Award – Dr. Jennifer Hennessey-Bremseth
2019 Animal Care and Control Employee of the Year Award – Henry Brzeninski
2019 Lifetime Achievement Award – Misha Goodman
2019 President’s Award – Paul Murphy
Conference Award Presentation Photos coming soon!
The National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) applauds the US House of Representatives for passing the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act (HR 724) today. We thank the House leadership for bringing this bill to the floor for a vote and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) for their steadfast support and hard work on getting this very important bill passed.
Federal law already prohibits animal fighting, as well as the creation of and trade in obscene videos showing egregious forms of cruelty, but the underlying cruelty itself is not banned. The PACT Act will create a federal anti-cruelty statute that complements the cruelty laws in the 50 states.
The Senate passed the PACT Act during the last Congress, so we are hopeful that it will move quickly to pass it again and get it sent to the White House for President Trump’s signature as soon as possible.
Photo Credit: U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Ted Deutch held a press conference on the PACT ACT in July with the Humane Society.