Shelter Operations / Programs and Services Re-Entry SOP

PHASE 4B: June 2nd – TBD

This Operational SOP will be revised and updated as we learn from our “reentry” experience and respond to new information that becomes available. Please check back often!

Beginning June 2, 2021, the Cleveland APL will move to Phase 4b of the CAPL Re-Entry Dashboard.

Under the Ohio Director of Health’s Updated Order, the vast majority of health orders will be rescinded on June 2, 2021. There are five responsible protocols recommended for all businesses to follow.  These are requiring face coverings for unvaccinated employees and posting signage communicating the need for unvaccinated clients and visitors to wear masks; conducting daily (self-evaluation) health assessments to determine if “fit for duty”; maintaining good hygiene at all times: hand washing, sanitizing, and social distancing; cleaning and sanitizing the workplace throughout the day, between shifts, and at the close of the day; and limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.

Because of our commitment to providing a healthy and safe workplace to our team, the Cleveland APL will continue to comply with health orders and heed public health recommendations. To date, we have followed a phased approach to rebooting our programs and services and opening our facility to clients and other visitors (see our Re-Entry Dashboard). At this time, we are moving to Phase 4b, which will allow us to deliver programs and services and the help the animals and clients who need us in a SAFE and EFFECTIVE manner.


  • The following services will remain mostly by appointment and delivered virtually or at curbside whenever possible, although clients will be allowing in the building in limited numbers:
  • Admissions appointments
  • Revaccinations and wellness check appointments for foster animals
  • Project CARE client appointments
  • Spay/neuter services
  • Adoptions
  • When appointments are scheduled, the APL will inform clients/visitors who are not vaccinated that they must wear a mask and maintain social distance at all times while on our property, whether inside or outside.
  • During Phase 4b, a limited number of visitors/clients will be allowed into the shelter to view adoptable animals, for project CARE and TNR check-in, for wellness appointments, for supervised meet and greets with specific animals, for foster rechecks, and for admissions appointments. However, if a client/animal can be helped virtually or at curbside, we will do so.
  • Clients will be supervised by a team member at all times with appropriate social distance.
  • Every public area/area entered, or surface or item touched will be disinfected between visitors.
  • There will be signage posted at public entrances and throughout the building communicating mandatory social distancing and face-covering requirements.
  • Donor and visitor tours will resume. No more than one group at a time will be scheduled and tour groups will involve no more than two visitors and two staff members.



  • Enhanced cleaning protocols in public/shared areas will continue.
  • All team members should continue to check their temperatures at home. Any person with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher must stay home.  Employees who report to work with a fever or COVID-19 symptoms or who develop a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher while at work may be sent home. The APL may check the temperature of a team member who appears to have a fever.
  • All unvaccinated team members must wear face coverings and maintain a social distance of six feet from each other at all times unless performing an essential task that doesn’t safely or humanely permit social distancing or alone in a closed office. Fully vaccinated team members may elect to wear masks.
  • Shared phones, keyboards and other office materials shall be sanitized between uses.
  • Hands must be washed frequently, and employees shall continue to avoid physical contact with other employees that is not required for the performance of job responsibilities (e.g., hugging, hand shaking).
  • No more than 10 employees may gather in a place at a time.
  • Department heads will assess volunteer needs in their areas and staff accordingly. Volunteers must be in compliance with all employee COVID-19 policies.



  • Unvaccinated employees shall maintain a social distance of six feet from each other AT ALL TIMES unless performing an essential task that doesn’t safely or humanely permit social distancing or alone in a closed office.
  • Fully vaccinated employees should continue to social distance whenever possible or practical.




  • The spay/neuter schedule is back to 100%. S/N prioritization will be based on animal and operational needs.
  • Non-clinic team members are not permitted in the clinic areas unless required for animal care. Use phone or email to communicate with clinic staff.  For urgent needs, see the meds RVT stationed in pharmacy.
  • Unvaccinated staff will remain six feet apart whenever possible. Exceptions will be made for procedures that cannot be carried out safely or humanely while maintaining distancing.
  • Before scheduling an appointment, staff must ask if the animal has been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. (See COVID-19 Exposed Animal protocol)

  • APL foster animals will be dropped off curbside, at the west lobby entrance.
  • Client check-in for Project CARE, AWC, and TNR spay/neuter will come through the new West Entrance.
  • Any unvaccinated community member coming to the APL for services (either in the building or in the parking lot) must be wearing a mask at all times, covering their mouth and nose.
  • Chairs, pens, clipboards and doorknobs will be disinfected regularly.
  • A maximum of three clients will be allowed into the lobby at one time, (one on either side of the vestibule and one at the desk). A maximum of two people per animal (or group of animals) will be allowed inside. Clients with children may be offered curbside assistance on a case-by-case basis.
  • Clients will exit the lobby through the same main doors. Clients should be lined up alongside the left walkway so that there isn’t overcrowding near the door.
  • Pick-up times will be assigned by appointment and staggered.
  • Pick up is done at the door at the end of the exam room hallway. Clients are greeted through the intercom where they will say who they are picking up. We will meet them outside with the animal(s) at the other door and complete discharge outside. During inclement weather, surgery discharge may be done in the main lobby with the same protocols as the check in process.


Animal Admissions

  • Admission for sheltering will continue to prioritize animals with urgent needs/no other options and humane investigations animals.
  • Admissions will add more routine appointments to the daily schedule.
  • Admissions appointments will continue to be conducted curbside to the extent possible. When it is in the better interest of the animal and/or client to come inside, a maximum of two cat and two dog appointments may be in the lobby at a time.  Admissions appointments taking place inside are limited to one person per appointment.
  • Admissions team will work with clients requesting an appointment to:
    • Provide additional rehoming options
    • Schedule vaccines, spay/neuter while waiting for admissions appointment
    • Schedule bulk intakes for vetting, spay/neuter, and transfer out to area shelters and rescues with capacity for intake
  • Animal population will remain at or below 80% capacity for each species.
  • Intake team members will ask if the animal has been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. (See COVID-19 Exposed Animal protocol)

Animal Care

  • Animal population will remain at or below 80% capacity for each species.

Foster Program

  • The foster program will continue to operate at full capacity with proper social distancing whenever foster volunteers have to come to the shelter.
  • Revaccination and wellness checks for foster animals will be conducted in the cat admitting and the exam rooms, or curbside whenever possible. Foster volunteers will use the west lobby entrance.  Animals that need to be seen by a veterinarian will be put in an exam room and the meds tech radioed about arrival. There will be one client allowed in per appointment, if needed.
  • Foster volunteers will be encouraged to find adopters for their foster animals. Fosters will take this quick course to learn how to market their foster animals:
  • Foster volunteers will have access to a virtual adoption process.


  • Adoptions will continue to be conducted virtually and curbside to the extent possible. A limited number of clients will be allowed in the building to complete adoptions and/or view animals.
  • Dog meet and greets will continue to be conducted outside, weather permitting.
  • Adopters will be allowed in the building as follows:
    • A maximum of two adoption appointments will be scheduled at a time.
    • Dogs meet and greets will be in the board room if outdoor meet and greets are not possible. Cat and small mammal adoption clients will be escorted to the kennel.
    • During specified browsing hours, two families (with a maximum of four people per family) will be allowed to view animals on the cat and dog adoption floors at a time; one will be allowed in the small mammal room. These visits will be supervised by a team member at all times and are not to exceed 30 minutes of browsing before moving on to adoption process.
    • Adopters will be able to meet a maximum of three dogs per appointment.
  • Offsite adoptions at events or using Rover II will not resume at this time. Affogato Café is open and using strict social distancing measures.

Humane Investigations

  • HI will focus field investigations and subsequent impounds on animals in urgent need, that are victims of cruelty/neglect, or have been abandoned with no possible caretaker.
  • HI will continue to work cases over the phone and prepare charges.

Animal Transfer

  • The transfer in of animals will be done on a case-by-case basis and limited to animals whose lives are in danger and for which we have capacity for care, either in the shelter or in foster. Additionally, when needed, cats may be transferred in for direct placement at Affogato.

project CARE Client Wellness / Veterinary Care

Wellness Clinic check-in and pick-up procedures:

  • Initial client check in will be handled with the same protocols as surgery check in.
  • A project CARE associate will be stationed in the lobby, managing the flow of incoming clients. When an exam room is available, one client per appointment will be escorted to that room. Ideal exam room capacity is two, however there may be times when an additional person is required for necessary medical procedures.  These instances will be kept to a minimum.
  • When the exam is finished, clients will be escorted into the first exam room where they will finalize paperwork and complete payment.
  • RVT will clean/sanitize the room before the next client enters.
  • Clients will exit the building out of the door at the end of the hallway, as to not overlap with clients entering the building through the main door.
  • Staff washes/sanitizes hands between every client/animal interaction.



Employees should notify their supervisors if they believe there is a gap in our “re-entry” planning for social distancing, sanitation, and/or maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. All input provided will be taken into consideration. If found to be consistent with CDC, Ohio Health Department, or other regulatory agency requirements, the plan or specific protocol will be modified accordingly.  

Employees are also encouraged to report any observed noncompliance with the APL’s plans and protocols as documented to a supervisor so corrective action can be take.


Rev. 6.1.2021 (final rev)