No one was really fully prepared when COVID-19 struck. But it helps to have some level of planning with protocols and policies in place for agencies to maneuver when disasters or pandemics take place. COVID-19 more than anything tested our agencies’ and government’s preparedness and adaptability during unprecedented times.
This session features a panel of speakers working on animal-related calls for service. Madeline Bernstein is the President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). Samuel Scott Page is the Sheriff of Rockingham County North Carolina. Scott Giacoppo is the Director of National Shelter Outreach for Best Friends. Trevor Whipple is a law enforcement trainer with the Humane Society of the United States. And finally, Ashley Mauceri, the Director of Law Enforcement Outreach with the Humane Society of the United States facilitates the discussion.
Some of the points they delved into are:
- Rockingham County’s collaborative response between law enforcement and animal control agencies, animal shelters, and animal rights groups.
- How Rockingham County is adapting to the needs of their community amidst COVID-19 by:
- Protecting officers from the normal hazards with the job and of the pandemic.
- Realigning staffing schedules to accommodate calls for service.
- Personal health and public health reporting.
- Training and cross-training in case a member of the workforce is sick or quarantined.
- Ensuring the use of PPEs and sanitizing vehicles, equipment, and workplace.
- The importance of fostering good working relationships across agencies before the critical event to outline partnerships, mutual aids, and other protocols and policies.
- The value in educating the public about the diseases, its transmission, and modifications in agency operations and protocols as a result.
- Expecting the potential for increased animal-related calls and guidelines to safeguard the responders from the risks of COVID-19.
- How the current conditions cause stress and frustration and how this set-up drives greater likelihood for family violence and animal abuse as victims are stuck at home with their abusers.
- Reminding responders to more attentive when responding to domestic violence incidents for other victims of abuse like animals, children, or elders.
- Iterating the importance of mindfulness so there won’t be animals left behind at home when responding to COVID-19 cases.
- Managing manpower and resources by determining the essential and priority calls for animal control agencies.
- Tips on how to work effectively amidst what-ifs through a proactive approach that involves:
- Planning and forecasting policies, programs, and protocols for disaster and pandemic response.
- Building relationships crucial to critical incident response in advance
- Adapting quickly through innovations and creativity based on the needs and limitations of the circumstance.
- The spcaLA’s Animal Safety Net Program which laid out specific plans on how to safeguard the animals caught in a domestic violence situation.
Questions raised by the audience were about:
- Concerns agencies must anticipate as we move forward amidst the pandemic.
- Resources to help civilians deal with stray/lost dogs.
- Utilizing technology to connect with victims of abuse and educate the community on reporting abuse while Stay At Home Orders are in place.
- Why it isn’t recommended to import animals at this time.
- Partnering with local businesses and agencies to supply some of the most essential needs.
- Supporting financially-challenged households to continue providing the needs of their pets.
- Providing shelter for domestic abuse victims and their pets.
- “Great tips on how to handle certain aspects of the pandemic.” — Amber
- “It was helpful to hear from other agencies about what concerns we are all facing and how they are handling them.” — Briana
- “Scott had a lot of really helpful information to share. I also appreciated the COVID pet care PDF and the Interim Meet and Greet handout.” — Dallas
- “It was helpful to know what issues law enforcement is encountering and how they are handling that in different areas of the country.” — Emily
- “A ton of extremely valuable information was provided in this webinar. Providing ideas for getting the public to get a plan in place for their pets in case they become ill is hugely helpful and I will be creating a press release so our citizens know about it!” — Janie
- “Madeline’s information was the most useful.” — Kim
- “The webinar was very insightful. I enjoyed it.” — Terrona