As you are most likely well aware, there is a new variation of a particular contagion that is circulating within the human population. It comes from a long-standing and well-established group of similar afflictions, but has some different and more severe symptoms than we are accustomed to seeing. It also appears to be very contagious and is wreaking havoc upon the lives of many.
I am talking, of course, about acartohygieiophobia . This morbid fear of running out of toilet paper (also called Endrollphobia in English – the Germans undoubtedly have a better word for it, but I haven’t found it yet) has gripped citizens of many countries and shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Ironically, those who already suffered from this ailment were probably well stocked before this pandemic broke out. The scariest thing about being paranoid is finding out that, in fact, your fears are well founded. Of course, there is never a really good time to run out of toilet paper, but some occasions are more egregiously awkward than others.
There is another disease spreading rapidly around the world. According to the World Health Organization, the virus is officially named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); the disease it causes is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
The disease was first described in December 2019 in the area of Wuhan, China. It appears to have originated in an animal host (not yet identified as of this writing) and spilled over into the human population. It then spread from person to person within China before breaking out in numerous spots around the world.
In the US (and perhaps other places) the disease was taken lightly at first, dismissed as hype, likened to the annual influenza outbreak and repeatedly teased because it bears the same name as a Mexican beer. The virus, perhaps insulted by this lack of respect, thwarted the efforts for containment and has become a huge international sensation. It also appears it will be here for a while, so we must adjust to its presence.
Disclaimer – This is a serious topic, and there is important information to convey. The health of the population (both human and animal) is our highest priority. However, a tiny bit of levity is necessary to keep this composition from being utterly, unbearably boring. So I feel compelled to give the virus that causes COVID 19 a nickname for literary purposes.
Viruses (viri? virii?) are composed of genetic material surrounded by a protective protein coat. They invade cells of a susceptible organism and cause the cells to produce copies of the virus. Because they reproduce in this way, they don’t actually have genders. I, however, shall take a little artistic licenseand refer to the virus SARS-CoV-2 as the feminine “Mimi” (meme phonetically, in a nod to its ubiquitous spread).
The term Corona actually refers to an entire family of viruses. Families (taxonomically) consist of multiple, related species. For example, the family Felidae is comprised of cats, wildcats, lions, leopards, cheetahs and saber- toothed tigers. While there is an obvious family resemblance, these different species have adapted (or not adapted and gone extinct) to different living conditions. Likewise, the viruses in the Corona family tend to have a preferred host and their presence within the host may manifest differently. Mimi has some relatives that do infect dogs and cats but the diseases they cause are usually mild. The notable exception is a particular mutation of a particular Coronavirus that can cause a particularly severe disease (Feline Infectious Peritonitis, aka FIP) in cats. There was a case reported of a human infected with COVID-19 whose dog also tested positive for the Mimi virus, but the dog did not show any symptoms. So it is you, the human caretakers of our beloved patients, that are at risk from this specific viral strain.
At the time of this writing, Mimi has already been released from Pandora’s box, earned the title of Miss Pandemic and embarked on a massive world tour. It is too late to stop her, we can only try to slow her spread. To do that, dear clients, we need your help.
The closer people are to one another, the easier it is to transmit disease. Mimi is no exception. Lots of human contact means lots of opportunity for her to spread from one host to the next. It works to her advantage that people can unwittingly spread the virus before they show any signs. For this reason, people have been told to stay home as much as possible and avoid mass (and Mass) gatherings. The more people present in the same place at the same time, the more likely it is Mimi is among them.
At this point, veterinary services are considered essential. Small animal vets are still working to care for sick and injured pets, and large animal vets are on duty to keep the food supply safe.
We also have a duty to protect human health. To that end, we need to drastically change our procedures.
To minimize potential Mimi exposure to, from or between clients, we are instituting a “curb-side” protocol until further notice. This will be quite a change for us as well as you and your pet. Please be patient during this period of adjustment while our staff adapts to these changes.
We are trying to minimize the number of humans in the animal hospital. The majority of interactions you have with our staff will be by phone. Please make sure we have the correct cell phone number.
When you call to make an appointment, the staff member making the appointment will brief you on the sequence of events to follow:
A staff member will contact you by phone before your appointment to discuss the reason for the visit and pertinent medical history.
If it is known that anesthesia will be required, we will e-mail consent forms for you to read and sign and send back to us or bring with your pet. If you are not able to print out forms, please let us know. We will then have forms prepared for you to sign at drop-off.
When you arrive at the appointed time, please call us from the parking lot and make your presence known.
Please bring your pet to the main entrance and step inside the first set of doors. A staff member (wearing a mask and gloves) will meet you inside the glass-walled vestibule (aka “the cube”) to collect your pet.
We ask that you then return to your vehicle while your pet is taken into the clinic and examined by the vet. You do not have to stay in the parking lot, but we do request that you be reachable by phone.
Upon completion of the exam, the vet will call you to discuss findings and recommendations for further testing and/or treatment.
After tests or treatment have been performed, a staff member will call you in regards to payment and retrieving your pet. Credit card payments can be made over the phone. Cash or check can be given to the person returning your pet to you. You will once again be directed to “the cube” to meet a staffmember.
If you need heartworm or flea preventative or meds refilled or prescription food, please call in your order ahead of time. You may also be able to order through our online store and have it delivered directly.
Lastly, we have the delicate topic of euthanasia. Saying good-bye to a beloved pet is difficult under the best of circumstances, and the current state of affairs is from ideal. At this time, we ask that the family have the farewell ritual at home. We can only allow one person to be with the pet during the procedure, and they may be required to wear a mask. We also ask that, if at all possible, the designated person be in good health and not a member of a high-risk group (under 18 or over 70, pregnant, immunocompromised etc.).
It is not possible to predict how long these procedures will need to stay in place. As Mimi’s reign of terror progresses, we will seek information and guidance from the CDC and the AVMA as well as the local health department and adjust accordingly.
Thank you very much for your patience and understanding during these difficult times. We will continue to provide the best care possible for your pet, even though we must maintain some physical distance from you.
For everyone’s safety, please heed the advice of the Master of Horror himself and “keep calm and take all reasonable precautions”.
Best wishes for your physical, financial and psychological health.
Dr. Debbie Appleby