Dear Guide Dog Foundation and America's VetDogs Graduate,
The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs are being proactive in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. To ensure the safety and health of our graduates and staff, we are considering a number of measures, some of which may include: limiting field service representative travel (this includes, but is not limited to, aftercare visits, home interviews, home training, and service dog re-certification) and altering the class schedule.
We encourage all of our consumers to keep themselves safe and to have a plan in case you are affected by this disease. In addition to the general hygiene practices recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization, here are some other points to consider:
1. Have a plan in case you become infected by the virus and cannot care for your dog.
This plan would include having a trusted friend or relative care for your dog or boarding your dog at a local kennel; having enough dog food and medication on hand for at least two weeks; and knowing the emergency veterinary hospitals that are open in your area in case of an emergency. For consumers who are local to the Smithtown, NY, area, please be aware that we may not be in a position to board your dog in our kennels or provide on-campus veterinary care. You should develop an alternative plan just in case.
2. As of today (3/12/20) both the CDC and WHO have reported that there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats can act as a source of infection for COVID-19.
We will continue to monitor new information as it arises. Per the American Veterinary Medical Association: “Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.” Read more
3. If you are having any concerns with your guide or service dog, please contact our Consumer Services Office at 631-930-9055, where we can offer phone support.
Depending on our staff coverage, our response may be delayed. Our after-hours emergency phone line is to be used for emergencies only. If it is not a true emergency, or if it is a concern that can wait for the following day, then please contact our Consumer Service office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
4. During this period, our field service representatives may not be able to visit you in person. If this is the case, we will work with you to develop an alternative plan.
For example, our field service representatives will all have the ability to perform video conferencing through various platforms such as FaceTime, Skype, and Google Duo. These are all free apps and can be downloaded on any Mac, PC, or smart phone. Here is a link for Google Duo: https://duo.google.com/about/ and Skype: www.skype.com. Please download these to your device in the event you need to consult with a field service representative.
The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs will do everything we can to continue to support our consumers until this outbreak is contained. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Consumer Services Office at 631-930-9055.
Thank you for your time and stay well.
Please see links below for the latest updates:
Chief Program Officer
Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs