Coronavirus Response & Information
March 23, 2020
An update on our operations in light of the Executive Order in Illinois:
1) Our Second Chance Resale Shop in Steger is closed until April 7. Please hang on to your donations until then!
2) We have consolidated our operations due to staffing challenges and have moved all of the pets located at our Homewood Adoption Center to the Chicago Heights shelter.
3) Our Chicago Heights shelter is open new hours from 10 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday by appointment only. For information about how or why to make an appointment, visit our website at www.southsuburbanhumane.org
4) Our Spay/Neuter Clinic located at 137 Joe Orr Road is closed until April 7.
5) We will have ongoing foster needs as pets come in so please contact us if you would like to be added to the foster list.
Thank you so much for your support during this difficult time! We are so grateful to everyone who has communicated support.
March 10, 2020 – With the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease on the rise worldwide, it is important for Chicagoland residents to include their pets in preparedness plans.
The South Suburban Humane Society joins the Humane Society of the United States and The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement in suggesting community members create a preparedness plan that includes their pets in the event your community is impacted by the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to preparations typically recommended for any natural disaster threat, individuals with pets should identify family members or friends to care for pets if someone in the household comes ill and is hospitalized.
Make a preparedness plan for your pets
Identify a trusted family member or friend to care for your pets if someone in your household becomes ill or is hospitalized.
Research potential boarding facilities to utilize in the event boarding your pet becomes necessary.
Have crates, food and extra supplies for your pet on hand in case moving them becomes necessary or if the disease spreads in the community and it becomes necessary to reduce social exposure.
All animal vaccines should be up to date in the event boarding becomes necessary.
Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering instructions. Including the prescription from the prescribing veterinarian is also helpful.
Pets should have identification including a collar with current identification tags and a registered microchip.
Click here to download a emergency/disaster preparedness for pets guide
The South Suburban Humane Society recommends staying diligent in preparations, but not overreacting to COVID-19 concerns. By creating a preparedness plan ahead of time for the unlikely event it becomes necessary to put into motion, community members can do their part to ensure animal service resources do not become overwhelmed and their pets are spared unnecessary stress.
One of the concerns we have at the South Suburban Humane Society is our staffing ability if there is widespread infection. Unlike many places of work, as an animal shelter we cannot just let our staff work from home because we have lives in our care. As such, SSHS has created a COVID-19 disaster plan and a key element involves getting as many pets out into homes now. Community members who are eager to help offset the potential impact on pets related to COVID-19 are encouraged to inquire about fostering. We will provide all the supplies you need and will make a foster match to your home environment. To learn more about fostering, please read below.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association states that there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected with or spread COVID-19. This is also the view of the World Health Organization. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, people with confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with other people as well as pets. That being said, there is some confusion in the pet owning world regarding animal coronaviruses. There are many different viruses in the “corona” family, these viruses are so grouped as they are morphologically similar. The particular virus that has spread nearly worldwide affecting people that has been widely publicized is the COVID-19 virus. Although it is suspected that this virus originated from animals, “At this time, experts have not expressed concern about transmission to or from animals. Multiple international health organizations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19. No animals in the United States have been identified with the virus, and there is no evidence that dogs or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19”. The COVID-19 virus should not be confused with the other corona viruses that we may encounter in animal welfare.
1. Canine Coronavirus – This is a gastrointestinal disease, common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, anorexia, and lethargy. A vaccine exists for this disease but is generally not recommended unless there is a high risk factor for an animal.
2. Canine Respiratory Coronavirus- This is one of the agents that is often incriminated in Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (or kennel cough)- It can produce the typical signs of upper respiratory tract disease and is often found in concert with other infectious agents producing CIRD. There is no vaccine
3. Feline Enteric Coronavirus- This is the agent that can produces Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). FIP is generally a fatal infection, there is no longer a vaccine available.
None of these viral diseases are zoonotic (transferable to people)
Emergency Foster Program
We are anticipating needing to find fosters for as many SSHS pets as possible if we reach capacity due to increased intake and slowing adoptions. In times when the community feels worried or uncertain about the future, intakes tend to go up and outcomes often go down. This is currently happening. We are seeking people who can provide a foster pet a home for 2 - 6 weeks. We need fosters for adult dogs, adult cats, and pets with medical challenges. Our BIGGEST need is for foster homes that can house a medium or large dog!
If you are able to open your home to help us, please complete the form attached below. Click "submit" at the end so that we have your information on file. We have pets of all ages, shapes, and sizes that we can find you someone who would be a good fit for your home! If you have any questions, please reach out!
Coronavirus Q & A
Q: Why can’t I surrender my (healthy) pet?
A: Right now, adoptions are down because people are avoiding being in public. Around 40% of our intake comes from owner surrenders. Those two things combined would mean a whole lot of pets coming in, but not going out into loving homes. We are trying our best to avoid overcrowding. We want to maintain space for the pets that need us.
Q: Why do you need me to hold this stray pet?
A: That’s a great question. SSHS is asking people who find friendly stray pets to consider fostering them until the shelter can resume normal operations. This could be around 4-6 weeks. Pets typically stay pretty close to home when they go missing, so fostering them where they are found helps get pets home much more quickly. The pets also avoid the stress of the shelter. Stray finders can take the pet to SSHS to check for a microchip, file a found report, and hold the pet to give the owner time to locate it.
Q: Are you stopping operations? Are you closing??
A: No. The change will mostly impact the owner surrender appointments. About 40% of the pets who enter SSHS are given up by their owners. We are asking owners who are not facing an immediate crisis to hold their pets for up to four weeks, and to surrender at a later date. For any pet owners who need to surrender immediately, we will still take their pets at their scheduled intake time.
Q: How can I help?
A: First of all, THANK YOU! Foster: The shelter is also looking for around 100 “on call” emergency fosters, who can take home a pet if SSHS reaches critical capacity. SSHS will need fosters for all types of pets but housing for medium and large dogs and pets with medical issues will be most needed. SSHS provides vet care, crates, supplies, and food. People can sign up to be an on-call emergency foster caregiver:
The health and safety of our pets and the community is our top priority. According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread coronavirus (COVID-19).
Foster homes needed now! We are requesting emergency foster homes that can keep pets for four to six weeks. The goal is to increase our foster base by 50% in case we are forced to close. If you’re interested in fostering a pet, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The public can also help pets in the shelter by volunteering. Caring for the animals does not stop, even if we have to close. Walking dogs, cleaning kennels and feeding, will still have to happen. Email us about volunteering at email@example.com
As a standard best practice, we ask that all pets have proper ID tags with contact information and that their microchip is up to date. This will help your neighbors get your pet back to you in the event they go missing, and will prevent them from having to enter the shelter. You can get both a ID tag and a microchip at our Chicago Heights location.
If you find a lost pet, file a found report, hold the pet you found, and attempt to get the pet back to its owners through posting flyers and using Nextdoor and Lost and Found pages. Please bring the pet to SSHS to be checked for identification and complete a found report.
Pet owners should wait to surrender their pet and should rehome pets to friends and family if they're able to do so.
Information provided by AmPA! COVID-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Guide.
AmPA! COVID-19 Animal Shelter Preparedness Guide