Prepared By

Dr. Ellen Jefferson, DVM, and Kristen Hassen-Auerbach

with the Covid-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Workgroup


The complexities of animal shelters planning for and responding to the emergence of Covid-19 designates the need for a guide for shelters to make decisions to maintain lifesaving operations. The possibility of open-intake shelters having to shut down adoption operations does not affect the need to continue to admit animals in need of immediate shelter. The risks associated with this is that shelters take in more animals than they can provide housing or live outcomes and could lead to unnecessary decisions to euthanize animals due to a lack of space.

The American Pets Alive! COVID-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Guide offers a framework to ensure that no shelter pet lives are lost and that shelters are proactive in preparation throughout the mutant Covid-19 outbreak. The health and safety of our pets and the community is a top priority for animal shelters.

According to the World Health Organization, there is ‘no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread [COVID-19.]’ This guide can be used for shelters preparing for possible threats to lifesaving capacity caused by community or shelter quarantine, shelter shut down, or staff being unable to care for animals in custody due to illness or the possible spread of disease between staff.

Animal shelters are well-versed in handling community challenges, disease control, and relying on community collaboration. This guide provides animal shelters with the protocols and resources to support preparedness in the case of citywide or county-wide quarantine. This guide includes protocols, and a readiness checklist for preparing for the Covid-19 outbreak.

The use of this guide is anticipated to promote Covid-19 animal shelter preparedness and response in the United States.

Activities and decisions during a response are event-specific. These intervals serve as a reference and are not meant to be prescriptive or comprehensive. This framework incorporates information from municipal shelters and American Pets Alive!, the national animal welfare organization dedicated to education and outreach for shelters and rescues to end needless shelter killing and euthanasia.

Covid-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Workgroup: Sheila Segurson, DVM, DACVBRory Adams, Sarah Aguilar, Clare Callison, Sarah Collica, Monica DanglerKelly Duer, Michele Figueroa, Monica Frenden, Kristen Hassen-Auerbach, Casandra Mensing,Jordana Moerbe, Jessica Powers, Bennett Simonsen, Mark Sloat, Christina Snow, Kasey Spain, Faith Wright