NOTE: This situation is rapidly evolving, with some communities instituting wide-ranging business closures, restrictions on public gatherings and even shelter-in-place mandates. Please be sure to stay abreast of the circumstances and requirements of your service area and visit our resource page for updated links and information.
We know that you and your staff have concerns about COVID-19 and how it will impact your business, and we want you to know that we’re here for you. We have been closely monitoring the status of the pandemic and are aware that the situation is constantly changing. Throughout it all, the welfare of pets and our people (you!) have remained our top priority.
Whether you’re working through cancellations, are practicing social distancing or are revising your services to support your clients, here are some tips for your business to implement during this time of uncertainty:
Consider New Offerings to Help Clients
Many clients will be faced with quarantines (either self-imposed, implemented by workplaces and/or government mandates), which may impact their ability to pick up and/or care for their pets. Come up with new packages to help people cope with quarantine situations by doing the following:
- Offer emergency pickups/boarding for people who get stuck abroad and can’t get home.
- Offer pet care packages with flexible terms for people who have to travel but are concerned about last-minute changes that will either keep them at home or keep them from getting home.
- Consider creating a two-week boarding package for a good bundle price.
- If you don’t have the option already, offer a service that brings the dogs directly to people’s homes so clients don’t have to leave.
Come Up with a Consistent and Fair Cancellation Policy
Cancellations will happen. Come up with a policy that is both fair and consistent. Be sure to communicate the policy to your entire client base. Communications should be clear and frequent. When the new normal shakes out, people will remember who behaved professionally and who did a money grab.
Keep Your Staff Healthy and Prepare for Absences
Communicate to your staff the importance of staying home when they feel sick and follow the updated guidelines and basic protective measures from health officials at the CDC and World Health Organization. Keep the business running smoothly by having a plan to ensure full coverage for unexpected absences.
Provide your on-site staff with the resources they need to stay healthy. Create a “healthy tool kit” complete with things like sanitizing wipes, Emergen-C, rubber gloves, tissues and snacks rich with vitamin C. If you can’t find hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes, remember that good old hand washing is still your best bet, so stock up on hand soap.
Focus on Cleaning and Safe Handling
Now’s the time to step up your cleaning and animal-handling game. Make a quick video to share with your staff that reviews proper cleaning protocols. Go over everything from the proper way to make a bleach bucket to how often they should be cleaning surfaces. BONUS: Create cheat sheets to hang around the facility. These will come in handy year round.
It’s important to remind pet owners that they cannot get COVID-19 from or transmit it to their animals (learn more from the AVMA here), but proper and safe animal handling is always important. Use a fresh leash for each pet. Change out your leash between uses. Wash or Lysol leashes regularly. When delivering a dog back to its owner, be sure to let them know they are using a fresh leash and consider wearing gloves before and after contact with clients.
REMEMBER: Some dogs react poorly to alcohol. Wait 30 seconds to let the alcohol in the hand sanitizer evaporate before touching your pet.
If you’re homebound for a few weeks, consider this time as an opportunity to review your business practices — what’s working? What isn’t? What do you really need to get by when push comes to shove? Think of it as enforced downtime, and don’t squander it by panicking. If possible, reschedule group meetings with your staff or consider holding them virtually. And conduct meet-and-greets with new clients according to best practices.
Promote Canine Enrichment and At-Home Bonding
Remind clients (and yourselves!) that unexpected time at home can provide for a great bonding opportunity with their animals. Practicing relaxation protocol, working on basic commands and using IQ toys are all great ways to keep your pets entertained while at home.
We’re committed to supporting our business partners, staff and the FetchFind community during this time and will be regularly sharing information about the situation and how to protect your business on social media. Stay tuned for updates and thank you, as always, for trusting us.
COVID-19 Additional Resources and Links
General COVID-19 Information
- World Health Organization: Events as They Happen
- World Health Organization: Situation Reports
- World Health Organization: Advisory Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Information
- New York Times Live Updates
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map
- Worldometer Case Tracker
Information for Pet Owners and Pet Professionals
- American Veterinary Medical Association: FAQ for Pet Owners
- American Veterinary Medical Association: FAQ for Veterinarians and Veterinary Clinics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: FAQ on Animals
Information for Business Owners
- Small Business Association: Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Jessica Remitz is an editor, content strategist and writer who lives in Chicago. By day, she’s the director of content at PetCoach, a Petco-owned health and wellness site with best-in-class veterinary telemedicine services. She’s previously worked for PetSmart, Food Network and Parents as a managing editor, contributor and strategist. By night, she is a passionate animal rescue volunteer and tries not to helicopter parent her beloved wonder dog, Darwin.