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4 Tips for Emergency Sheltering During COVID-19

August 31, 2020, The Association

How do we safely undertake disaster sheltering in a pandemic? What changes must be made to existing protocols? Red Rover’s Beth Gammie and IFAW’s Jennifer Gardner of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition’s COVID-19 Sheltering Committee sat down with us to record a 30-minute webinar. This on-demand presentation covers the gamut from PPE and adapting your shelter layout to animal housing and the best location for receiving donations of supplies. We know you’ll want to listen to the complete recording, especially after a sneak peek at these top takeaways:


With its constant traffic and lots of face-to-face convos, your intake area poses the greatest risk for COVID-19 transmissions. Ideally, your intake area will:

  • Utilize electronic forms and recordkeeping 
  • Have a separate entrance, so daily care staff don’t enter alongside the incoming residents and animals
  • Be located adjacent to a parking lot, with space for a line to stretch outside and an awning or overhang to project people from the weather


Get creative with your communications! There’s so much fun signage out there for social distancing, and it serves as an important reminder for personnel and for pet owners. 

Team Briefings

Emergency shelters start and end their days with team briefings, preferably held outside. This is a new era for emergency sheltering, and we don’t have all the answers, so encourage everyone to speak up on what’s working and lessons learned.

Alternative Housing

Note that some people will not feel comfortable staying inside with their pets. They may come to your emergency shelter for resources to help them stay in their vehicles, tents and campers. It’s smart to make a plan to support them. Post additional signage outside, and explore options for pets, like doggy day care and temperature-controlled tents, if the owners need to leave during the day.

Emergency Animal Sheltering During the COVID-19 Pandemic has been pre-approved for 1 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credit. It has been submitted for CE consideration to NACA and Texas DSHS and is pending approval.

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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