Interim Guidelines from the AVMA and CDC regarding shelter intake for COVID-exposed animals, a summary*

At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, are involved in the transmission of COVID-19 to people. Whenever possible, animals should be left in the care of their owners unless circumstances such as hospitalization and lack of a caretaker require admission of the animal to the shelter.

General Principles:

Removing animals from COVID-19 affected homes:

  • Whenever possible, companion animals should be kept with their owners. This serves to support the human animal bond as well as to protect against overwhelming animal shelters and compromising humane care in shelters.
  • If animal care workers need to enter an infected person’s home to recover animals, they should follow the most up-to-date guidance from health departments and the CDC.
  • If animals need to be removed from the home, minimal contact between people should occur.

Intake into the shelter:

  • Reusable, washable PPE is advised over garments (cloth labcoats, coveralls) along with gloves for performing standard intake procedures.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water after removing gloves.
  • Standard disinfectants should be used to sanitize spaces
  • There is no need to bathe animals due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • At this time, there is no evidence that the disease spreads through fur. However, use precautions including minimal handling, hand-washing, and not having close contact with animals during intake procedures.

Housing and care in the shelter:

  • Double-sided housing is strongly recommended to minimize daily handling during cleaning.
  • Enclosures should be spot cleaned when needed.
  • Animals from COVID-19 exposed homes should be housed in a species-specific ward separate from other animals. This is being done out on an abundance of caution for human and animal health, but at this time the risk of these pets to people and other animals appears very low.
  • Standard PPE (washable coveralls, boots, gloves) should be worn when cleaning these housing areas. Reusable, washable PPE solutions are advised over disposable to preserve PPE.
  • Frequent hand-washing is advised.
  • Dogs should be walked regularly and provided with enrichment, but in an area separate from other dogs.
  • Staff handling should be limited and not involve close or prolonged contact.

Returning pets to owners:

  • Reunions should occur as quickly as feasible.
  • Animals should be housed for 14 days prior to transfer to a new home.

COVID-19 testing for animals:

  • Neither the CDC, USDA, nor AVMA recommends routine testing for COVID-19 for animals. If there is a question regarding testing for a companion animal, it should be directed to the state public health veterinarian or designated health official.

*the full document can be found here:


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