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Veterinarians taking precautions amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Staff | Mar 19, 2020

Some veterinarians around the city are leading by example by limiting the interaction between clients and staff to prevent the spread of coronavirus while also caring for the four-legged patients.

Cape Coral Pet Vet Dr. Cecilia Fisher said Monday afternoon they began having pet owners call when they arrive in the parking lot after making an appointment. A staff member takes down the history of the pet, what is going on, and then a technician takes the dog, or cat, from the car and brings it into the clinic, so only the pet enters the clinic. Once the pet is checked out, the owner is called and presented with the treatment plan, procedure and/or medication before the pet is brought back outside to the owner.

“We want to limit the exposure to the client and staff,” Fisher said. “We are trying to lead by example to help people keep healthy. We are making adjustments on a daily basis as needed as the guidelines change. We are following CDC, AVMA and FVMA guidelines.”

As of Wednesday, she said the new protocol had been going well. She said although adjustments had to be made by staff, and clients, they have had very few issues.

“A lot of things are changing and we have to adjust as different recommendations come out,” Fisher said.

In addition, the clinic has also started telemedicine for some minor issues such as ear infections and skin infections over the phone.

“We can do it either through the phone with a phone call and pictures, or Facetime, Google Duo, so we can set up some video time where we can watch them,” Fisher said.

Islandside Animal Hospital is using similar protocols.

Co-owner Autumn Stokes said they began curbside appointments Thursday morning.

“We are taking it day by day as things develop. Our procedures may change depending on what we need to do to stay in protocol with the government and CDC,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to try and preserve staff as much as possible and run on a skeleton crew.”

Stokes went on to say that they want to limit their staff’s exposure, so no one has to go into a quarantine situation at any point; thereby allowing them to continue to provide services.

She said the curbside appointments requires clients to call once they arrive in the parking lot. One designated staff member will go out to the car, retrieve the pet and bring it back into the clinic.

The doctor and owner will be put on speaker phone, Stokes said, so the owner can hear the examination as it happens. She said they will discuss the treatment plan and do whatever is needed for the pet.

The pet will then be brought back to the owner by the same designated staff member and a credit card will be taken over the phone for payment.

As of right now, Fisher said COVID-19 does not affect pets.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association since pet fur is porous and fibrous it is very “unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting, or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed, and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding materials and toys.”