Caring for pets amid COVID-19 crisis
In the midst of cautionary procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital's 24/7 medical services will remain available to animals in need.
"It's our responsibility to stay open for animals and their families in an emergency," said Ron Morgan, DoveLewis President and CEO. "But it's also our responsibility to protect people: our staff, clients and our community at large." To do that, the organization implemented measures to reduce contact between community members, including cancelling the Wet Nose Soirée, the nonprofit's animal-studded gala and largest fundraiser of the year.
A digital auction will be held in its place in April, but the financial impact could be significant. The event had a goal of raising $340,000 to help support the 46-year-old nonprofit's operations and community programs, including financial aid to low income families and medical aid for abused animals, stray animals and wildlife.
"We don't know the long-term impact it will have on animals and families who need us, and we won't be the only nonprofit facing such challenging decisions," said Morgan. The organization is working closely with its board of directors, event sponsors and long-time supporters to launch alternative fundraising initiatives to relieve the gap that the event's cancellation could create. Morgan said, "We're following the advice of the experts and hoping that our supporters will rally behind us."
In addition to implementing social distancing precautions, DoveLewis is encouraging families to plan for the health and safety of their pets. With ill family members, school cancellations and changing work environments, a pet's health could be at risk.
Planning for a pet emergency
Emergency care contact: In the event of an emergency, consider a friend or family member who can care for your pet. DoveLewis' medical team members can update you on your pet's condition and get consent on treatment options over the phone, or you can provide a signed document designating that person with the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.
Veterinary availability: Research nearby emergency veterinary hospitals and their current hours. DoveLewis is open 24 hours a day and is located at 1945 NW Pettygrove St., Portland, Oregon 97209.
Pet food and medication: Evaluate your current stock of pet food and medication to ensure your pet's wellbeing in case you are unable to leave your house or your local pet food store or clinic adjusts its hours.
Home environment: An altered schedule at home can cause stress to manifest in a variety of ways, including vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. Create a safe, quiet zone for your pets where they can relax.
Identification: Any time a pet's routine is changed dramatically, it can cause stress and increase the risk of flight. Make sure your pet's tags and microchips are up to date.
Stay up-to-date: According to the CDC, there is no current reason to believe that pets will become ill or spread COVID-19, but it's important to stay up-to-date on recent findings for the sake of people and pets both.
DoveLewis loans ventilator to Spokane hospital
With resources in demand at a level surpassing anything in recent memory, medical professionals are looking beyond their usual network for support. DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital has loaned a ventilator to a human hospital in Spokane, Washington, which picked up the machine on Tuesday.
"They're at capacity and told us that this one ventilator would help many people," said Dr. Shana O'Marra, DoveLewis' Chief Medical Officer and board-certified critical care specialist. "Yes, we're an animal hospital, but we help people, too, and if we can share our resources to help even more people, we will." In addition to the direct loan to the Washington hospital, the Portland-based nonprofit organization responded to a call from the American College of Veterinary Emergency Critical Care to register surplus equipment with the hopes of bolstering the resources of in-need human hospitals in whatever way it can.
But for a high-traffic hospital like DoveLewis which expects to care for 25,000 patients this year, resource-sharing is a balancing act. The organization is complying with the governor's executive order to make available any surplus personal protective equipment (PPE), but supplies are diminishing. Hospital leadership has organized an internal response committee to develop practices to prolong PPE supplies and implement social distancing policies that still allow the 24/7 team to care for animals in the throes of an emergency.
O'Marra even made the hospital's first homemade batch of hand sanitizer and shared the recipe on atdove.org, the hospital's international distance-learning site for veterinary professionals. "We're getting creative with the resources that we do have and sharing as much information as possible," said O'Marra. "It's a scary time, but I'm proud to see people rally together for the sake of their patients — human and animals, alike."
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