The world around us is changing fast, but it's business as usual for the dogs at K9 Cleveland, a doggy day care and boarding facility in the Flats West Bank that is doing its part to help out those fighting on the front lines against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Tucked behind the Willow Avenue Bridge, it's a little sanctuary where pets spend their days playing with toys, chasing bubbles and being watched over by owner and veterinarian Dr. Deidra Galhorta, DVM, and manager Darlene Tuck.
"We know our pets are extremely important to all of us, so we want to make sure they not only have their walks during the day, but some socialization and sense of normalcy during this crazy time," Dr. Galhorta told 3News' Stephanie Haney, who uses their services for her own dog, Harry Winston.
Animal care is an essential business, and for people working long hours like Dr. Amanda Mook, DO, knowing her dog, Oakley, is taken care of makes all the difference.
"Oakley runs around at daycare and gets all tired out," Dr. Mook told 3News' Haney in a FaceTime interview after returning home from work on Tuesday.
"It's nice to just come home and he's relaxed and just sort of cuddle on him and sort of forget about the day for a little bit."
Dr. Mook is a neurologist with Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute.
She normally treats things like stroke and seizures, but on Wednesday she was asked to be part of a medicine redeployment team.
That means she'll be called to step in to treat things like pneumonia, heart attacks and diabetes when medical teams inevitably need backup to handle the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"A lot of us physicians don't worry about ourselves being infected particularly, but we're very terrified of being asymptomatic and passing it on to someone we're taking care of at home, or one of our other patients and such," Dr. Mook said.
"It just weighs on you, that stress is kind of constant."
To help ease that stress, Dr. Galhorta is cutting her day care and boarding price in half for all medical workers, now through at least April.
"We have quite a few medical professionals currently and I know that the toll [of handling this pandemic] is hard and it's gonna get harder, so I wanna do whatever we can to help them," Dr. Galhorta said.
Dr. Galhorta also told 3News that essential workers who are still sending their animals to day care should not be concerned about their pets contracting or spreading COVID-19.
"There has been one weak positive test that came back for a dog in Hong Kong, but that dog's owner had COVID-19 and it's likely the dog's nose was just contaminated with the virus, rather than the dog actually being infected," Dr. Galhorta said.
As for the humans in the building, additional cleaning protocol and pick-up and drop-off procedures have been put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff and dog owners.
Update as of April 22, 2020: Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low, but it now appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.
CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
The CDC now recommends that people treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals Frequently Asked Questions.