COVID-19 update

March 2021 Update

The state mandate for mask-wearing and business closures will be/was lifted on March 10, 2021. This means that the State of Texas will no longer require masks in public areas, and businesses are allowed to more completely open business.

Please understand that there is a huge difference between “allowed” and “must.” The changes that have been made seem more political than scientific, and the CDC has advised that masks should continue to be worn.

The decision to keep our COVID policy in place was made in order to maximize the health of our employee family and our community. The entire policy is listed below. We understand this pandemic is making life harder for you, it’s making it harder for everyone, including us, and we look forward to such time that most of our employees have been vaccinated, the community has gained some herd immunity, and we can change the policy. But for now, we will not be allowing clients into the building (with the exception of euthanasias) and anyone encountering our staff will be asked to wear a mask. If you feel uncomfortable about this, or believe that your rights are being violated, please seek services elsewhere. We are too busy treating sick and injured pets to get into philosophical discussions about your rights. We have a right as a business to protect our employees, and we are exercising this right.

YES, we are open and accepting patients!

The outbreak of the novel virus COVID-19 has presented challenges to all of us. While we recognize that the Governor of Texas has lifted the stay-at-home order, we will continue to protect the pet-owning public, as well as our staff with the following steps:

  • When you get to FEPC, please call us at 469-287-6767 (add our contact info to your phone with the QR code at right before you leave the house). Signs have been placed in the parking lot to number spaces and decrease confusion.
  • Bring your pet to the front door (please have pets either on a leash or in a carrier), and we will have a team member escort your pet to the treatment room. You can then return to your vehicle – we are not welcoming pet owners inside our building at this time, for your own protection. Carriers will be brought back to the front door immediately.
  • A team member will call you to get more information about your pet’s illness, injury, or signs.
  • We will advise you whether you should stay in the area. When possible, we will recommend that you go home, but this will depend on our caseload/wait time, the severity of your pet’s condition, and the distance to your home.
  • Once our doctors have had a chance to assess your pet, they will call you to discuss diagnostic steps or recommended treatments, as well as estimated costs.
  • Visitation of hospitalized animals will not be allowed as long as this policy is in force.

These measures will almost certainly increase wait time, which will also be affected by staffing levels (which may be affected by illness or providing care for children that are now home-schooled). We appreciate your patience – we recognize how stressful it is to visit an emergency facility, and we will do everything we can to minimize the stress on you, and your pet.

We are frequently faced with helping people make very difficult end-of-life decisions and helping our clients through the process of euthanasia. Pet owners going through this process will be allowed inside to be with their pets. Rest assured, we will take all reasonable precautions, including disinfecting the consultation rooms between client visits. All clients coming into our hospital will be required to wear a face mask.

We will get through this, together. We look forward to welcoming owners back into our building and consultation rooms. While we are not epidemiologists or virologists, veterinarians do have some training in both of these areas, and the news and advice from the scientific community holds more weight for us that what might be economically or politically expedient for members of government.

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions. These answers come directly from information prepared for public consumption by experts at the American Veterinary Medical Association. This document is longer than the answers listed here, and is available for download here.

Q & A

Q: Can SARS-CoV-2 infect pets and can it be spread by pets to other animals, including people?

A: We do not have a clear answer as to whether SARS-CoV-2 can infect pets at this time. That said, currently, there is no evidence that pets become sick. Infectious disease experts, as well as the CDC, OIE, and WHO indicate there is also no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to people. More investigation is underway and, as we learn more, we will update you.

However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.

Q: Can pets serve as fomites in the spread of COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 appears to be primarily transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze.

COVID-19 might be able to be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, doorknobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur), because porous, and especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.

Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.

Q: If I am ill with COVID-19 are there special precautions I should take to prevent spreading disease, including when caring for my pet?

A: If you are sick with COVID-19 you need to be careful to avoid transmitting it to other people. Applying some common-sense measures can help prevent that from happening. Stay at home except to get medical care and call ahead before visiting your doctor. Minimize your contact with other people, including separating yourself from other members of your household who are not ill; using a different bathroom, if available; and wearing a facemask when you are around other people or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. Wash your hands often, especially before touching your face, and use hand sanitizer. Use a tissue if you need to cough or sneeze and dispose of that tissue in the trash. When coughing or sneezing, do so into your elbow or sleeve rather than directly at another person.

Out of an abundance of caution, the AVMA recommends you take the same common-sense approach when interacting with your pets or other animals in your home, including service animals. You should tell your physician and public health official that you have a pet or other animal in your home. Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. So, if you are ill with COVID-19, have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.

Q: My pet or service animal needs to go to the veterinarian and I am ill with COVID-19 – what should I do?

A: If you are sick with COVID-19 or another communicable disease, you should stay at home, minimizing contact with other people, until you are well. Accordingly, if this is a non-urgent appointment for your pet or service animal consider rescheduling that appointment until your physician and/or your public health official believe you no longer present a risk of transmitting your infection to other people you may encounter during such a visit, including owners of pets or other animals and veterinary clinic staff.

If you are sick with COVID-19, and you believe your pet or service animal is ill, you should seek assistance from your veterinarian to determine how to best ensure your pet or service animal can be appropriately cared for while minimizing risks of transmitting COVID-19 to other people.

FEPC translation - It is important to protect yourself and your family, and we have the same responsibility to our employees (and if enough employees get sick, we have to close the hospital, which means not being able to provide the care that we were put on Earth to provide). Your pet's health is important to all of us - please respect the quarantine rule, and do not expose friends or family members, but have someone else bring your pet to us. Your pet does a really horrible job of carrying the virus - care will not be denied.

Don’t forget − if you have an established relationship with your veterinarian (i.e., they have seen your pet/service animal in the recent past), telemedicine can be an excellent way to connect you, your pet/service animal, and your veterinarian. It can be used to help determine the urgency with which an animal needs to be seen and can also be used to conduct rechecks of certain types of ongoing medical problems.