For as long as I can remember, which is March 16th (the day before San Francisco Shelter in Place took effect), I’ve heard “We are in this together.” Apparently to one of our competitors in San Francisco, this isn’t the case. Before I go on, we know who the competitor is, we’ve just decided not to call them out (I know – shockingly mature for me, so you know that Michelle made me edit it out).
Last Sunday afternoon, this competitor sent us a rather accusatory email asking how Pet Camp was complying with San Francisco’s Health Ordinance as it relates to pet care. The email wasn’t “Hey, I’m also in the pet care industry and I’m curious how you are dealing with (fill in the blank).” It was “I am curious to know how the required social distancing between dogs is being maintained during your pet camp daycares? Social distancing between dogs from different households is a local government mandated requirement, as stated in the document below. [the document was the Amended San Francisco Health Order] Please advise and thank you!!!”
Pet Camp’s Response – How Pet Camp is Providing a Safe Environment amid the Novel Coronavirus Crisis
Frankly, even though the tone was off putting and I knew that he/she was a competitor, I responded in some detail about Pet Camp was doing to provide a safe environment for the pets under our care, pet parents, and of course, the counselors.
In summary (and if this is the summary, you can image the detailed version) this is what I said:
Dogs don’t seem to be a primary source of Covid-19 transmission
- Yes, the CDC had reported a few very isolated cases of dogs catching Covid-19, but that if they were really at risk, we would be seeing many-many more cases.
- That there were no reported cases of dog to dog transmission of Covid-19.
- That there were no reported cases of dog to human transmission of Covid-19.
- So, when the CDC recommended not going to dog parks, the issue seemed to be that they were concerned about humans mingling, not dogs.
- Since only the counselors are at Pet Camp, we had removed what appeared to be the primary area of concern.
The CDC seems to be less concerned about fomite transmission. Yes, the CDC had discussed fomite transmission, but that seemed to be a lesser concern.
- We had taken steps to address fomite transmission.
- We were not accepting belongings besides food and medicines and we were disinfecting any food or medicine before it was handled by the counselors.
- We were not handling leashes and collars.
- The risk of the dog being the fomite for transmission seems low. The pet parent would need to get the virus onto the dog (either, for example, by sneezing directly onto the dog or sneezing into their hand and then wiping their hand on the dog); while the virus was still active, a counselor would need to touch the dog in the same spot; the counselor would then need to touch their eyes, nose or mouth (also while the virus was still active). Sure, this is possible, but not likely.
Covid-19 seems to be transmitted primarily via aerosolization of the virus.
- To protect both pet parents and counselors, we had expanded on our already robust cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
- We’ve always worried about aerosolizing a pathogen (long before Covid-19) which is why we don’t clean using a high power pressure washers (which blasts whatever is sitting on the surface back into the air) but rather use a low pressure central wet/dry vacuum system, low vapor steam cleaners, and walk behind floor scrubbers to clean.
- We follow this cleaning by disinfecting using an electrostatic sprayer which enables a disinfectant to cling to vertical surfaces and to get into hard to reach areas which someone might miss if disinfecting with a wipe.
I, of course, also discussed our social distancing practices and our new path of travel so clients didn’t need to cross paths. Lastly, I also shared that I was in regular conversation with colleagues and competitors throughout California and nationally regarding the development and implementation of best practices AND that I would be happy to chat with him/her about the same.
The Competitor’s Response – Definitely Not All in this Together during Covid-19 Crisis
I thought that after a few emails back and forth that I would simply move on; but I was wrong. Apparently, this competitor was not satisfied with my responses, so they called the City and County of San Francisco and reported Pet Camp as violating the Health Order! How do I know? Because we were visited by two very nice enforcement officers who acknowledged that they were responding to a complaint from a competitor and who were shocked, in a good way, that I had taken the time to respond to the this competitor’s email and shocked once more, this time not in a good way, that even after I responded that he/she had called them.
The San Francisco City and County employees were wonderful. They explained why they were at Pet Camp and we discussed everything we had done to protect the dogs, pet parents and the counselors (pretty much the same things I had told the competitor). I explained that I was open to any and all suggestions on what we could do better. I provided them with all my contact information.
I think they left satisfied with how Pet Camp was operating, but if not, I hope that they give me the courtesy of a call so that we can have a discussion – a courtesy that our competitor did not provide me.
Thanks for reading and stay health.