COVID-19 Updates

June 25, 2020

 

Disability doesn't go away during a pandemic...and neither does Canine Companions. After a brief pause to evaluate and implement safety measures, our work and mission continues.

Since late March, 292 Canine Companions puppies have been delivered to their volunteer puppy raisers to begin their journey to become assistance dogs. We have also hosted 17 secure and social-distanced Team Training classes which resulted in 40 people receiving their expertly trained assistance dogs.

While we may make changes to our protocols, our program remains strong, and we continue to reach out to clients and volunteers to share information and provide support. Please review the following information recently released by the CDC.

Recommended ways to protect yourself and your service dog:

  • Service animals may need to be around other people and animals while working. When possible, both the handler and the animal should stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • When possible, do not take a service animal into settings in which people are infected with COVID-19 or facilities where you cannot prevent interactions with people who may have COVID-19.
  • Avoid contact between sick people and the service animal as much as possible. If contact cannot be avoided, the sick person should wear a cloth face covering when around the animal.
  • Clean and disinfect service animal collars, vests, leashes or harnesses, and other supplies frequently.
  • Do not wipe or bathe service animals with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use. There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.
  • Do not put face coverings on service animals. Covering an animal’s face could harm them.

Please click here to review the full set of the guidelines and additional information.

May 12, 2020

Canine Companions closed our six regional training centers in mid-March out of an abundance of caution during the pandemic. While we have always been a qualifying essential business, our priority has been the health and safety of staff, dogs and constituents. On May 4, we started returning training, veterinary and kennel staff, as well as dogs in professional training that were being fostered off campus. Our priorities haven’t changed – health and safety are paramount. We have developed careful operation plans to maximize infection control while continuing our mission and keeping dogs in training.

How Canine Companions is safely operating during these times:

  • Campus will remain closed to volunteers and visitors until further notice.
  • Staff are divided into teams on opposing shifts and assigned zones that limit access to entries, kitchens, facilities and offices. Every team will be responsible for upholding hospital-level sanitation standards.
  • Kennel staff, trainers and veterinary staff will take precautions by wearing scrubs when coming in and out of buildings. Every staff member is required to wear a mask on campus.
  • When not working a shift on campus, employees continue to work from home.

Canine Companions continues to find innovative ways to move our mission forward from home:

  • Canine Companions employees are reaching out to our entire constituency of graduate teams, puppy raisers, breeder caretakers and donors to ensure our community feels supported through these uncertain times.
  • We are reaching out to assistance dog applicants and those on our waiting list to provide assurance that we are diligently working towards matching them as soon and as safely possible.
  • Staff is developing tools, such as training videos, to support puppy raisers, breeder caretakers and graduates while we are unable to meet in person.
  • With restrictions on commercial airlines, local pilots have volunteered to fly puppies to volunteer puppy raisers on the West Coast.

As always, we are grateful for the continued support of our volunteers, donors and community.

April 24, 2020

Canine Companions® remains committed to the health and safety of our staff and dogs during the global pandemic and have established plans for a tentative return to campus when safe to do so. Campuses remain closed, but key staff and some dogs in professional training are scheduled to return to campuses in May. This slow return is in place to keep our mission moving forward with safety for all in mind.

Our volunteer puppy raisers continue their work with Canine Companions puppies while staff facilitate online puppy classes via Skype. Puppies continue to learn and grow in innovative ways. With the support of our volunteer puppy raisers, we know each puppy is in a loving home, ready to make a difference as a future assistance dog.

Due to physical distancing guidelines, our spring events have gone virtual! Now you can support and attend virtual events across the country, and we encourage you to get involved with Canine Companions events. We hope to “see” you there. Visit our regional web pages for information on events.

Disabilities don’t disappear in a crisis, and neither do our assistance dogs. Learn more about the life-changing work of Canine Companions assistance dogs, and the crucial role they play for a person with a disability, especially in uncertain times. Read more stories about how our dogs are helping.

Canine Companions relies on the support of thousands of generous donors and foundations. Your support is needed now more than ever. If you have the ability to do so, please consider making a gift to keep our mission in motion.

April 6, 2020

With all six training centers closed, Canine Companions relocated 420 dogs nationally to homes of staff and volunteer fosters. But service dog training hasn't stopped. Our trainers have been training dogs at home, practicing and learning commands so they are ready to return and continue professional training. Watch these media stories to learn more:

Long Island News 12

News 4 Jacksonville

NBC Spokane

March 24, 2020

In an abundance of caution and to protect our employees we have decided to implement our shelter-in-place protocol at our Southeast Region Training Center. The dogs will be placed in foster homes and staff will begin working remotely by the end of the day Wednesday.

March 23, 2020

Our South Central Training Center and our North Central Training Center are now under a shelter-in-place order. We have relocated the dogs at these centers to foster homes and have directed staff at these locations to work remotely.

We are doing this in an abundance of caution. There is currently no positive diagnosis on this or any of our campuses. We will continue to collect mail, process donations and ensure the health and safety of our staff and dogs. We’re continuing to monitor activities nationwide.

March 20, 2020

The state of California has issued a shelter-in-place order for the entire sate. We are now relocating the dogs at our Southwest Region Training Center to foster homes and have directed staff at this location to work remotely.

We are doing this in an abundance of caution. There is currently no positive diagnosis on this or any of our campuses. We will continue to collect mail, process donations and ensure the health and safety of our staff and dogs. We’re continuing to monitor activities nationwide.

March 19, 2020

Due to the state of New York’s request for 75% of the workforce to stay home, we are proactively implementing a shelter-in-place response for our Northeast Region Training Center. For this reason, we are relocating our dogs to foster homes and have directed staff at this location to work remotely through April 7, pending further updates.

We are doing this in an abundance of caution. There is currently no positive diagnosis on this or any of our campuses. We will continue to collect mail, process donations and ensure the health and safety of our staff and dogs. We’re continuing to monitor activities nationwide. Stay safe everyone!

March 18, 2020

As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, we have another update for you about our Headquarters and Northwest Region location, the Jean and Charles Schulz Training Center. Our local county, as well as many of the surrounding Bay Area counties, has declared a shelter-in-place order. For this reason, we have relocated our dogs and puppies to foster homes and have directed staff at this location to work remotely until April 7, 2020.

We are doing this in an abundance of caution. There is currently no positive diagnosis on this or any of our campuses. We will continue to collect mail, process donations and ensure the health and safety of our staff and dogs. Our other training centers are not affected by this shelter-in-place order, and we continue to monitor activities nationwide.

March 17, 2020

Like all of you, we are working hard to manage the impact of the current pandemic on our employees, graduates and community. As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, we continue to be committed to the health and safety of our employees and constituents. We are working to take actions that are thoroughly planned and appropriate for all of our locations nationwide. We are relying on the expertise and direction of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as local authorities. We also need to be mindful of impact to the health of our organization; although this is a secondary consideration, it is still an important one. To that end we are taking the following steps, implemented immediately:

  • All optional travel has been suspended.
  • We will no longer allow volunteers or visitors on any campus beginning immediately. This is as much for the safety of our community as our employees.
  • The dog parks at all campuses are closed.
  • We have asked all employees who do not feel well to stay at home. In addition, we’re implementing a rotation to work from home and have authorized employees in the high-risk categories (60 and above, underlying health issue) and those living in the same household with high risk to work from home.
  • We are practicing social distancing for all employees, maintaining a minimal distance of 6 feet and conducting meetings by Skype.
  • We are following all disease prevention actions such as hand washing, wiping down doorknobs, tables and kitchens daily. We are also increasing our cleaning on a weekly basis.

We have canceled all puppy classes and graduate follow-ups and are working to find ways to support these efforts on an online basis. We are revisiting our plans for April and May Team Trainings and puppy matriculation, working to create a plan that is safe and effective. We will continue to update you on these subjects as our plan develops.

As you know, this is a very dynamic situation. We are monitoring all developments closely and will continue to act quickly to protect our employees and community. Our hope is that we can count on your continued support; it is critical in times such as these.

We remain focused on our mission and know that this WILL pass at some point. We will get through this and be a stronger team for it.

Thank you all for your commitment to the mission. Please reach out with any questions.

March 12, 2020

We are taking precautions to limit the effects of COVID-19 on our operations, including canceling or postponing many large group events as well as non-essential activities, including most travel, public campus tours and on-campus large group activities.

We ask that you help us by avoiding visits to our regional campuses if you are sick or exposed to anyone sick. Please be patient with us as we may reschedule some appointments and activities.

Animal Health Updates

At this time, there is NO evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from dogs to humans or that the virus causes illness in dogs. We recommend the following:

  • As always, when interacting with any dog, be certain to wash hands before and after feeding them, picking up their feces and touching them, particularly if you are feeling ill.
  • Anyone who is feeling ill should stay home (this includes any of our constituents that want to come to our campuses), practice good hygiene with their dog(s) and avoid interacting with other people.
  • For a more comprehensive resource discussing COVID-19 and pets, please click here.

Should you need to contact a regional campus, please call 1-800-572-BARK (2275). We will continue to update this page if and when necessary.

We look forward to being able to see you and serve you in our usual fashion as soon as possible!