News Release - City Animal Services Adjusts During COVID Shutdown

City of Rochester

News Release 

(Tuesday, April 21, 2020) – Rochester Animal Services, the City’s animal care and control agency, has made a number of adjustments to services and operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most of the changes are related to minimizing the number of animals housed at the Animal Services Center on Verona Street. Shelters nationwide have been focused on reducing intakes and moving animals out of the shelter system as soon as possible. This was done to be prepared for potential increased intake of animals from households where owners may be hospitalized and unable to arrange for pet care and for possible staffing reductions as employees might become impacted by the virus.

 “Although these changes have been prompted by the current crisis, they are helping fast-track innovations to animal sheltering and community-based support services and will undoubtedly be part of the ‘new normal’ throughout the animal welfare industry,” said Chris Fitzgerald, the City’s Director of Animal Services.

  • Field Services have been limited to high priority incidents involving public safety or animal safety
  • The shelter is closed but facilitating release of pets by appointment for the following categories:
    • Lost pet recovery
    • Pet adoptions – Adoptable animals are displayed on website, clients call or email and are connected with foster caregiver to coordinate meet-and-greet visit, adoption processed at shelter with social distancing
    • Transfers to local animal rescue organizations – Curbside pick-up for animals released to rescue partners
    • Foster Care – Curbside pick-up for animals being housed in foster homes
  • Most animals are being housed in foster homes instead of at the shelter
  • Spay and neuter surgeries continue for adoptable pets
  •  Community Outreach and Pet Owner Support is focused on call-ahead drop-off of pet food and supplies; no-cost spay/neuter is on-hold until clinic partners resume such elective surgeries
  • The Fast & The Furriest® event has been rescheduled to August 15 as a virtual event; registration and fundraising platforms are open and community support is more important than ever
  • Animal Services is requesting assistance from community members
    • o Foster Care – Sign up for emergency or routine fostering
    • o Reuniting found pets with owners
    • o Keeping cats and kittens in the community (Don’t cat-nap the kittens)
  •  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 that 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. 

Rochester Animal Services 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 Rochester 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.

Rochester Animal Services 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. Community members who are eager to help offset the potential impact on pets related to COVID-19 are encouraged to offer assistance to any friends or family members who may be struggling with caring for pets.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, WSAVA, has compiled information from global authorities on the current understanding of the role of companion animals and COVID-19. There is no current evidence that companion animals are a source of infection to people. Current recommendations from the CDC include washing hands before and after interacting with pets if ill. 


News Media: For more information, contact 311 (428-5990).