– Saint Francis and COVID-19

UPDATE 7/1:
We continue to adhere to the following guidelines:
1. The office remains closed to the public and the front door will remain locked at all times. 
2.  Most of our staff works remotely when possible.
3.  Social distancing is maintained when in the office. 
4.  Anyone who is not feeling well is instructed to remain home.
5.  Staff coming to the office after returning from travel must wear a face covering at all times for two weeks and maintain strict social distancing.
6.  Visitors to the office are by appointment only, and volunteer activities will not be resumed as of yet. 
7.  Door handles, restrooms, and common areas must be disinfected several times a day.
8.  Regular hand washing is required. 

UPDATE 4/1:
We will hold graduation virtually on September 13 at 7:00pm.  Learn more here>

UPDATE 3/19:
1. Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and in accordance with the recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and Virginia Department of Health, we have made the decision to postpone our May 3rd graduation to a later date, to be determined.

Our training team will continue to work with our graduating class remotely, and we look forward to celebrating with these new teams when it is safe to do so.

Thank you to our sponsors and to you, our Saint Francis Family for your patience and understanding.

2. Our veterinary advisor, Dr. Mark Finkler, has reviewed the latest information from the dog experts advising the American Veterinary Medical Association. Here are the highlights: 

-There is no evidence that dogs can become infected with COVID-19, spread the virus to people or to other animals.  Transmission primarily occurs when there is contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus  droplets in a cough or sneeze. Transmission via touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes is also possible, but appears to be a secondary route.

-Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur) because porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch. 

-Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit other people’s contact with their animals until more information is known about the virus’ viability on fur.


Originally posted on 3/17/20:
At Saint Francis Service Dogs our goal is to protect the health and safety of our partners, dogs, volunteers, staff, and community; to do so with thoughtfulness and compassion; and to ensure every measure we take serves the common good.   We have been carefully monitoring developments related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

We are adhering to the recommendations set forth by the CDC, WHO, the Virginia Department of Health, and our veterinary advisors, including:

-We have temporarily suspended all volunteer programs and activities, including dog walking, in-home puppy raising, grooming, training classes, fostering, and puppy sitting

-With few exceptions, our dogs are being housed in our kennel facility, with their trainer, or at Bland Correctional Center in our Prison Pup Program.  We are prepared to house all dogs at the Saint Francis kennel facility if needed.  The Saint Francis kennel facility is built with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure cleanliness, including air circulators that replace the air in the kennel every 15 minutes.   The facility includes an isolation kennel with all the equipment needed to maintain a safe space free of contaminants.

-We have ensured that we have an adequate supply of essentials, such as cleaning supplies, dog food, and medications, in the event of a short-term supply chain disruption.

-For the time being, our office is open to our staff only. 

At this point in time, we have not made a decision regarding our May 3 Graduation Ceremony.  We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary.  In any decision that we make, the safety and health of our Saint Francis Family will be our number one priority.  More information to come.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourselves and best care for your pets during this time, please visit the following websites to review recommendations provided by the CDC.

CDC:  COVID-19

CDC:  COVID-19 and Animals

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