Heading Back to Work? Prep Your Pet

Dog looking out a window.
(photo c. Embark)

For the past several months, pets of folks who are working at home during the shelter-in-place have enjoyed the extra attention and company. As people return to work, even part-time, some pets might experience separation anxiety. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a few tips to minimize the stress of this change:

  • Start slowly introducing your pet to a workday routine. Get your pet accustomed to new wake, feeding, and walking times.
  • Practice leaving the house and your pet. Start out leaving for short periods and then gradually extend the time.
  • As you leave, give your pet a small treat to help create positive connections to your leaving.
  • If you see signs of anxiety—such as destructive activity—do not punish your pet. Instead, shorten the time you are away and slowly build up to longer periods. Stay calm when leaving or returning home.
  • Before leaving, engage in play and activity. Burning energy can help keep pets calm and relaxed.
  • If you’re planning on using a pet sitter, dog walker or pet daycare, be cautious. Exposing your pet to others can increase your pet’s and your own risk to COVID-19. Follow protocols put into place by the daycare and do not use the service if you or your pets are sick. Keep cats indoors. Do not put face coverings on pets and do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or any other products not approved for animal use.
  • Dog parks are starting to reopen, but you want to maintain, as best you can, a safe distance between your pet and others. Don’t allow people you don’t know to pet your dog and you shouldn’t pet theirs.
  • Keep your pet occupied during your absence with long-lasting treats, food puzzles and automatic feeders.
  • If you typically used a crate when you were gone but haven’t been using it during the shelter-in-place, now is a good time to explore your options. You can decide to do away with the crate or if you plan to use it, start doing so now, while you’re still at home, putting the dog inside for short periods and giving them rewards. Dogs should not be left in crates for extended periods of time.
  • Look for signs of stress, such as excessive barking or whining, agitation, destructive behavior and inappropriate urination or defecation. Consider setting up a camera so you can see how your pet is doing while you’re gone. You also can then show the behavior to a veterinarian, who can help you figure things out.

Foster Adventures

Freckle-face cutie Scrappy: “He seems really comfortable living here, and has come out of his shell… He absolutely loves getting attention and being around people, even if it’s just me sitting next to him (he makes sure at least part of him is touching me) while I work. He seems more interested in people and dogs than objects/environments, and would rather have a good cuddle session than go for a run. But we still have a lot of fun playing fetch indoors. He’s a wonderful walker (in ideal conditions), and generally quite attentive to me which makes it easier to train him. He’s such a sweet boy and I feel so lucky to be able to look after him during this time!”

Pecan Sandy has been such a joy to have in our home these past 3 weeks! She has perfect manners when we’re making our food, rolls over for belly rubs, cuddles in our lap, and naps with her favorite stuffed toy. She has become much more confident in the house and seems to be overall loving life!”

Nala and Bella…Both of these little ladies have the sweetest of dispositions! Bella (the bigger sister) is more adventurous while Nala (the petite sister) is a bit more reserved. Though they are both on the shy side, they quickly come out of their shells for food and treats! Some of their favorites include romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, fennel, pear, strawberries, and, of course, carrots! They love to snuggle together in cozy spots, groom each other, and loaf around, but will explore the house when given room to roam. They are skittish (as prey animals tend to be in general), but allow gentle pets especially while snacking on treats. They’ll thrive in a home that provides continued socialization to help them get comfortable with human companions. They are gentle and completely non-aggressive (no biting, growling, etc.), have not chewed on any non-food items (like wires, furniture, etc.), and are litter-tray trained. They are also pretty much the cutest little furry beings on the planet!

Playful gent Shakespeare is looking for love! His foster says: Shakespeare is a fun-loving and affectionate guy! He has a lot of playful energy and is capable of some high-level gymnastics when he is motivated to catch his toy. He loves to curl up next to his foster for affection and love, which really gets his purr motor going. He enjoys scratching posts and interactive wand play as well as independent game playing with pom poms and mouse-shaped toys. By day, this clever 3 year old cat prefers to be busy and active. By night, this little sweetheart prefers to sleep in his foster’s bed.
Shakespeare can get overstimulated, so he’ll do best with an experienced adopter ready to play, play, play, in an adult only home. Per his previous owner, he’s not a fan of dogs. Shakespeare is FIV+ but is still positively adoptable!

Shaka is easy going and a joy to be around! He is known to spend most of the day curled up in his bed next to one of our desks while we are working, either sleeping or chewing on one of his toys. He’s very loving and affectionate. He often thinks he’s a lap dog and will try to crawl into your lap whenever he can! He is energetic during play and generally well-mannered on walks, usually wanting to stop and sniff though on occasion has shown favorability towards a brisk power walk. Shaka knows “sit” and “come” and has been making some progress with learning “stay” and “down”. Shaka has been very friendly with everyone he meets, dog and human! When he sees a dog on the street he generally gets excited and wants to say hi. He can be a little mouthy during play but is great when given the option to channel his energy into chewing toys. He’s been a well-mannered boy in this home which is quiet to moderate in activity. He’s a smart and loving boy likely to make a great addition to a home prepared with consistency and some structure for his day-to-day.

Chrissy and her adorably huge ears are comfy cozy in her foster home!

Fun Activities for Kids & Adults During SIP

Train your cat to high-five!
You know your cat is smart. They can read your mind and manipulate you to serve their goals. Why not spend some quality quarantine time training them to impress your friends with tricks? If your cat loves treats, you can probably teach them to high-five in no time. A great activity for kids and kitties!



Match the dog to their person!
For those who enjoy a good coloring book and love dogs, download and print this Dog Activity Book, shared by the SFACC B&T team. Includes, word games and loads of great info about dog behavior. A fun learning tool for kids and adults!

Changes in SFACC Procedures During COVID-19

Starting on April 11, 2020, San Francisco Animal Care and Control will provide special “Kitten Care Kits” to people who find underage kittens on their property and have the ability to care for them. 


Update from Executive Director Virginia Donohue…

As we are all aware, the world has changed dramatically in the last three months. The urgency of the pandemic requires that we rethink how we operate to keep staff, volunteers and animals safe. In light of the seriousness of the pandemic, University of California at Davis and University of Wisconsin have teamed up to make a broad set of recommendations on how animal shelters should operate in these tumultuous times.

As with every other aspect of the pandemic, information and best practices evolve. We pledge to stay up-to-date on it all for the best possible outcomes for the animals in our care, our community members, volunteers and staff. Most importantly, we must take the shelter in place order seriously. Every time you leave your home, you put yourself and other people at risk. As an organization, we cannot support or promote any activity that jeopardizes human health.

These recommendations run counter to the soul of any animal welfare organization and are staggering to contemplate. However, with shelter-in-place orders in much of the country, we are placing a premium on human health and safety.

Spay/neuter surgery has been deemed not essential at this time. Shelters are being asked to place animals in homes and ask adopters to return for surgery when normal activity resumes. Veterinarians stress that while our mutual goal is population control, at this time elective surgery takes valuable protective equipment away from human health providers. It also exposes staff members to unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. SFACC is developing a system for virtual adoptions and for tracking animals who will need to be brought back for surgery.

Also, the national recommendation is that shelters no longer take in healthy kittens of any age. Advocates should not be leaving their homes to trap cats and kittens. This is not an essential function and violates the health orders that are in place. SFACC will continue to take in all animals who are ill or injured.

The guidance is based on concern for everyone involved and the extraordinary number of human interactions that take place in the care of kittens. We recognize that this will result in a surge of intact, homeless kittens. Even worse would be a surge in COVID-19 cases amongst the trappers, foster homes, kitten advocates, volunteers and shelter staff. All of the guidance can be found HERE.

If San Francisco residents find kittens in their yards, they can call SFACC and describe the situation. We will prepare customized kitten kits that can be picked up outside the shelter by appointment. This will allow residents to care for the kittens in place. If kittens are sick, injured, orphaned and unweaned, in immediate danger or the caller is unwilling to provide care, they can bring the kittens to the shelter.

SFACC is the only shelter in San Francisco that will take in animals whose guardians are hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections. We currently have three in-house, and are planning for more as the number of cases increases. To make room for them, we have more than 60 animals in foster care with fabulous volunteer families.

We expect the guidance to continue to evolve and we will adapt accordingly. Meanwhile we will be making plans for how to move forward after the crisis eases. We realize that we will have a lot of catch up work to do and hope that all of you will be there to help us.

Please stay in your homes and be safe.

Virginia Donohue, Executive Director

You can help SFACC keep Kitten Care Kits supplied by donating items from the shelter’s Amazon Amazon Wish List.