May 8, 2020 — An Update on the Cleveland APL’s Gradual Phase-In of Key Services

Please know that as Ohio businesses begin to reopen, the Cleveland APL team is rolling out our plan for ramping up programs and services. We expect there will be numerous revisions as we learn from our experience and receive and respond to new directives. As always, our first priority is keeping our team, our animals, our organization, our clients, and our supporters safe.

During the month of May, we plan to phase-in some of our key services very gradually.

We do not plan to open to the public quite yet. Client interactions will provided at curbside with social distancing unless safety or humane considerations dictate that someone must enter the shelter. Any exceptions will be handled with significant precautions. We have implemented a staggered, appointment-based system for services being provided at this time. Staff members will be required to wear masks. Visitors who enter the facility also will be required to wear face coverings. We have defined room and area capacity limits, increased our sanitation protocols beyond our already extraordinary practices, and implemented any number of other precautions to protect people and remain in compliance with social distancing requirements.

We will continue to limit our intake to animals with urgent needs only and keep our animal and people populations in the shelter low. We must be sure we will have enough employees available and healthy to provide humane care to the animals in the shelter. We also need to remain ready to backtrack in the event there is a spike in disease requiring renewed shutdowns or to manage emergency situations.

Performing spay/neuter surgery on our adoptable animals and providing spay/neuter services to a limited number of Trap-Neuter-Return, animal welfare organization, and project CARE clients will be our first priority. We will continue to ramp this up as our experience and external requirements permit. Next will be adoptions, which will be carried out using virtual strategies and with as little direct interaction with members of the public as possible … at least for now.

Please know that we have never stopped helping animals and people in urgent need through Humane Investigations, our Intake Department, and project CARE (Community Animal Retention Effort). As a matter of fact, we have increased our support to struggling pet parents thanks to generous donations of pet food and supplies from our community,, and, soon, Hills Pet Nutrition. We are deeply grateful for this support and proud to be the position of being a hub for distribution of these critical resources. The Cleveland APL is, and will always be, committed to keeping pets with the people they love and families together.

There are parts of our “new normal” that may fly in the face of how we have done things in the past, but we have learned SO much during our journey through these hard and unusual times. Much of what we’ve been “forced” to learn has been very positive. As a progressive, innovative, lifesaving organization, we plan to turn this learning into action that will make us an even better steward for the animals whose lives depend on us.

I will continue to share updates with you as we have them. Please know that anything that has been shared here … right now … could change overnight. Our amazing team is constantly assessing our current status and making appropriate revisions to our plans based on up to the minute information and our actual experience. They are the reason why the Cleveland APL is a strong organization and the reason why we will be here to help animals now and for years and years to come. They make me proud … every day.

Finally, I want you to know that everyone who has supported us during this time has made a difference that truly can’t be measured … or appreciated enough. Your support really, REALLY matters and we need you now more than ever!

Thank you for being an advocate for animals and giving a voice to the voiceless. You are why the Cleveland APL exists.

With deep gratitude,

Sharon Harvey
President & CEO, Cleveland Animal Protective League

May 4, 2020 — An  Update from our President & CEO


April 22, 2020–An Update from Our President & CEO

CLEVELAND (April 22, 2020)—I’m writing, first and foremost, to thank you for your continued support! But I also want to provide you with an update you and make sure you understand what a HUGE difference you’re helping us to make right now.

The past few weeks have been a blur. Virtually overnight, everything changed for all of us – at home, at your workplaces, and at the Cleveland APL. We have had to make unthinkable decisions to comply with Ohio’s Stay at Home order and social distancing requirements. We temporarily suspended programs that have been part of our core and reprioritized and rethought the delivery of essential services for animals and their families. I’ve come to despise this word, and a few others, but it was nothing short of surreal.

While things seem to be taking a turn for the better, we’re far from being through the pandemic, but I’d like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and updates with you.

Our initial approach.  In the early stages of our “disaster” response, and before sweeping social distancing requirements were ordered, our team took a very proactive approach and worked quickly to get as many animals adopted as possible, They worked just as quickly to get the rest into foster homes. And, wow, did our Greater Cleveland community ever step up! We were successful in moving all but about 30 animals out of the Cleveland APL and into adoptive or foster homes. The majority of the remaining animals needed to stay in the shelter for a variety of reasons relating to their medical care or other special needs. Meanwhile, at the same time, we changed our animal admissions policies to focus intake on sick, injured, abandoned animals, animals experiencing malicious abuse, or animals at acute, imminent risk.

In those early days, we weren’t sure how the next several weeks would play out. Every scenario pointed to needing to get our shelter population as low as possible. We didn’t know if a lockdown might prevent staff from actually coming to work or adopters from coming to adopt; we didn’t know how many staff we would lose to illness and quarantine; and we didn’t know how many emergency intakes we would need to manage from a community experiencing a novel hardship.

Looking back, some of the things we were preparing for have not materialized – yet, anyway. Thankfully, so far, we have not had a staff member diagnosed with or showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. We also have not experienced increased demand for large numbers of animals coming to the Cleveland APL. Interestingly, this is consistent with the experience of animal shelters in cities like New York where there has been much more illness. However, because there is still so much uncertainty about this virus, especially as we start to plan for a gradual reopening, we must continue to be prepared for the worst.

So did we overprepare?  No. Our effort to move animals out of the shelter was and continues to be the right move, and we must stay this course for at least the next few weeks. When we first started moving animals out, reducing human interactions was a good idea but only one of many factors being considered. Now, as we watch the impact of social distancing measures, we know minimizing interactions is a primary factor to keep us all, and our community, as healthy as possible. Since every animal in our shelter, by definition, creates multiple human interactions, it will be important to continue to keep our shelter population as low as possible through the next phase of response and uncertainty.

With that background, let me turn to what may be some of your questions:

How is the Cleveland APL taking care of its animals?  Depending on the time of year, we routinely have anywhere from 75% to 50% of our animals in our shelter with the rest in volunteer foster homes. Currently, we have 36 animals in the shelter and 273 animals in foster homes, a 12%/88% split. Whether existing or new since we sent out a plea for help in response to the pandemic, every single foster home in our database represents lifesaving capacity. We also have maintained a level of staffing that ensures every animal in the shelter and in fosters homes will receive every bit of care they need and that sick, injured abused, and abandoned animals and animals that have no other humane options can come to us for care.

What is the Cleveland APL doing to help pets in need and the families who love them?  Through our project CARE program, the Cleveland APL has continued to provide access to essential veterinary care, food, and supplies to income-qualified pet parents in Cleveland. Also, we have expanded our pet pantry program and have just received a huge donation of pet food, cat litter, and other pet supplies from The Cleveland APL will serve as a local pet food and supply pantry for Cleveland residents and as a regional distribution hub to make sure these items quickly find their way to pets and families in need during this crisis.

When will the APL be “back to normal?”  As you know, Governor Mike DeWine has announced that there could be a slow reopening of some businesses after May 1st. We are watching the updates closely so we can understand how this plan and any new requirements will apply to the Cleveland APL, our team, and our programs and services. I do know that we will continue to place a high priority on the health and safety of our employees, clients, volunteers, and animals as we put a reopening plan in place. Candidly, though, I don’t think we’ll ever return to “normal” again – and I believe that’s a good thing for our animals and animal sheltering in general! With your help, our new normal will result in a Cleveland APL that is an even more effective lifesaving organization and advocate for animals.

You have changed the future.  This is SO important:  you have already been a part of making the world a better place for animals. You. As I noted above, shelters all over the country have responded to this crisis by dramatically increasing their number of foster volunteers and relying on them to be our “shelter.” Right now, if you were to ask anyone in my role from across the country about how this crisis is likely to change our field, the first answer most will give is that we have learned how much more is possible when we ask our communities to play a larger role in “sheltering” and fostering animals. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if we ever go back to the shelter/foster ratio we accepted as necessary in the past. Because of this terrible experience that forced us to try some new things, animals in the future will be healthier and happier, and the community far more deeply engaged in the work of keeping them that way. Here’s a moment of personal truth I’d like to share. I switched careers and got into animal welfare 17 years ago because I wanted to be a part of seeing a day when the ONLY animals in cages in a shelter, regardless of how “nice” the shelter may be, are those who truly had no other options. We’re on that path. We can and will come out of this stronger and more open to change that, ultimately, will allow us to better serve animals who need our collective help – TOGETHER WE’RE UNSTOPPABLE!

I am humbled by your compassion and commitment to helping animals in need, and I’m honored to be taking this lifesaving journey with you on our team.

Thank you so very much.


Sharon A. Harvey

President & CEO

Your support means so much to us, now more than ever.  Please help us continue our life-saving work by making a donation today.


April 20, 2020 — When will you be reopening?

Many people have reached out to ask about our plans for after May 1. As you know Governor Mike DeWine has announced that there could be a slow reopening of some businesses after May 1. However, the Governor has yet to announce what that means and how new requirements will apply to the Cleveland APL team and our programs and services. When he does we will be better able to determine what that means for our next phase of day-to-day operations at the Cleveland APL. We can anticipate that we may never return to business as usual, and we will all have to adjust to a new “business as usual” in many aspects of our lives. With your help, our new normal can result in our being an even stronger and more effective organization and advocate for animals. Please know that health and safety of our employees, clients, volunteers, and animals are of primary importance as we put a reopening plan and new protocols in place. Please stay tuned, and as we know more, we will certainly communicate our plans with you. Stay safe and be well!

We are committed to continuing the Cleveland APL’s mission-critical work for animals and people during these uncertain times. But, with the loss of important events, we are seeing a gap in donations. We hope you will help us bridge the gap in funding by making a donation, today.
Together, we are unstoppable. Now is the time to make a difference.


April 6, 2020 — COVID-19 Tiger and Pet Preparedness

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ve already heard about the tiger at the Bronx Zoo that has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Before this story develops more of a life of its own than it already has, here is what you need to know from RELIABLE sources.

In summary, several tigers and lions at the zoo had developed symptoms of respiratory illness, so they decided to test one of the cats. That tiger tested positive for COVID-19, so they are working under the assumption that the other symptomatic tigers and lions are positive. Public health officials believe the animals were exposed by an asymptomatic employee who was shedding the virus. The animals are all expected to recover. Much more research is needed to fully understand all aspects of the virus’s transmission and its impact on various animal species.

There are still many more questions than answers, but, at this time, this is more about what our pets, more so cats than others, could get from us rather than what we can get from them.

USDA Statement on the Confirmation of COVID-19 in a Tiger in New York:

Worms & Germs Blog (Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses):

AVMA Statement on COVID-19 and Animals:

AT THIS TIME, the news of this new case in an animal does NOT change current recommendations for pet owners who are sick with COVID-19. The best place for pets is at home with their families. Every pet owner should have a plan in place with friends and/or family to care for their pet(s) in the event they become physically unable to do so due to hospitalization or severe illness. People who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 can live with their pets, but should limit close contact and be sure to wash hands before and after touching or feeding pets. There still is NO evidence that humans can get the virus from their pets!

Here’s what you need to put a good plan together for the care of your pet:

  1. Know the facts: According to the CDC, there is no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from pets. The best place for your animal is inside the home they know and love. If you aren’t feeling well but are still able to provide care for your pet, please keep them at home with you where they’re most comfortable.
  2. If you do become too ill to physically care for your pet or you need to be hospitalized, who can take over for you? Is there anyone else in your home who could help? Maybe a neighbor, friend, coworker, or family member who could take them in? Even a groomer, daycare, or boarding facility may be able to help in your time of need with advance notice. But the most important thing you can do today is come up with two potential pet plans and talk directly with those people so they’re prepared in case they’re called to action.
  3. Prepare a pet supply kit. It may not seem necessary today, but we promise it will be hugely helpful if you find yourself in an emergency situation without the ability to track down the proper supplies. Your kit should include the following, as best as you’re able:
    • Name and contact information for the person who can care for your pets
    • Name and contact information for your back-up in case your go-to is no longer able to help
    • Food, treats, a leash, a couple of toys, and any other supplies necessary to care for your pet for at least two weeks
    • A crate or carrier to transport your pet
    • Vaccination records
    • Collars with ID tags (and don’t forget to make sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date)
    • Medications and prescriptions, along with a list of instructions
    • Daily care instructions
    • Contact information for your veterinary clinic

We are committed to continuing the Cleveland APL’s mission-critical work for animals and people during these uncertain times. Your support is more critical now more than ever. Together, we are unstoppable. Now is the time to make a difference for animals in need. Thank you!


April 1, 2020 — Adoptions Suspended, In Need of Fosters and Status Update on TNR

In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and in an effort to further reduce the number of people leaving home and coming to the shelter, the Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) has suspended adoptions at the shelter—even by appointment—until further notice. The Cleveland APL will still be moving animals into foster homes and encourages anyone interested in helping the organization to care for an animal during these difficult times to reach out to the Foster Team at

“This most recent change is required to remain in compliance with Ohio’s Stay-at-Home Order in our county,” says Sharon Harvey, President & CEO. “While animal shelters are listed as an essential business, the Stay-at-Home Order does not include leaving home to adopt an animal as an essential activity for people or an exception to staying at home. However, leaving home to foster an animal, which is a much shorter and better controlled process, is still considered a lifesaving and essential activity.”

Until further notice, the Cleveland APL’s hours for urgent animal admissions and other essential appointments at the shelter are 11am to 5pm Monday – Saturday. Members of the public are urged not to come to the Cleveland APL unless they have an appointment as the facility is not open to the public at this time.

If you are a Cleveland resident with an urgent pet care need or are in need of food or other supplies for your pet as a result of COVID-19, please contact the Cleveland APL at 216-255-5012 or 216-771-4616 ext. 0 for assistance during the above stated hours.

As mentioned in a previous press release, the Cleveland APL also has been forced to reduce non-urgent animal intake and temporarily suspend other services, such as its Trap-Neuter-Return program for community cats and other spay/neuter or client services. The APL has asked its generous supporters to stop leaving donations of food, supplies, blankets, sheets, linens, and other items at the shelter until further notice. Instead, donations of new items through the APL’s Amazon Wish List will be gratefully accepted.

To make a monetary donation to help the Cleveland APL continue its lifesaving work, please visit



March 27, 2020 — Suspending Adoptions Until Further Notice

We are suspending adoptions until further notice.

If you are able to help us care for an animal during this time, please sign up to be a foster parent/family and contact us at

Our hours will be 11:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday, closed on Sunday.  Please note that we are only able to assist clients by appointment at this time.  Call 216-771-4616 x 0 for more information.

If you are a Cleveland resident with an urgent animal care need or are in need food or other supplies for your pet as a result of COVID-19, please contact us at 216-255-5012 or 216-771-4616 x 0 for assistance.



March 19, 2020 — Cleveland APL is Offering Animals Adoptions by Appointment Only

In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and in an effort to control the number of people coming to the shelter, the Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) will be doing adoptions by appointment until further notice. Adopters are invited to call in advance and set up an appointment. Our team will answer questions that a potential adopter may have about the animal and review the animal’s history over the phone in order to further reduce the amount of time needed in the shelter. When calling, please have the name or ID number of the animal you are interested in ready.

All animals currently available for adoption are viewable on the Cleveland APL’s website at or on our free app available in the Google Play and Apple Stores. Both are updated in real time, and any animal online is currently available for adoption at the APL. Adopters are asked to call (216) 771-4616; ext. 0 to schedule an appointment to adopt.

As mentioned in a previous press release, the Cleveland APL also has been forced to reduce non-urgent animal intake and temporarily suspend other services, such as its Trap-Neuter-Return program for community cats and other spay/neuter or client services. The APL is asking its generous supporters to stop leaving donations of food, supplies, blankets, sheets, linens, and other items at the shelter until further notice. Instead, donations of new items through the APL’s Amazon Wish List will be gratefully accepted. Finally, in anticipation of staffing shortages, the APL has been increasing foster placements for animals who not ready for adoption.

“This is an extremely challenging time for everyone,” says Sharon Harvey, President & CEO. “Despite the constantly changing restrictions and hurdles, we are committed to fulfilling our mission-critical work for animals and are focusing our limited resources on serving those with the greatest and most urgent need. Meanwhile, with so many animal-loving people stuck at home, now is a wonderful time to add a new family member, so please consider adopting. The animals of Cleveland need you now more than ever.”

To make a donation to help the Cleveland APL continue its lifesaving work, please visit



March 17, 2020 — Cleveland APL Doing Adoptions by Appointment

Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18th, the Cleveland APL will be doing adoptions by appointment only until further notice. In an effort to control the number of people coming to the shelter, we are asking interested adopters to please call in advance and set up an appointment. Our team will be able to answer questions that you have about the animal and review the animal’s history with you over the phone, hopefully reducing the amount of time needed in the shelter. When calling, please have the name or ID number of the animal you’re interested in ready.

Animals available for adoption can be found at:

We ask that anyone with signs/symptoms of illness or known exposure to COVID-19 refrain from visiting the shelter at this time.



March 13, 2020 — Cleveland APL reduces adoption fees in response to COVID-19 threat

With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) declared a pandemic and news of confirmed cases in our community, the Cleveland APL is preparing for anything from short-term, minor operational disruptions to the worst-case scenario of a longer and more significant shutdown.

First and foremost, meeting the needs of the animals already at the APL’s facility will remain a top priority. Cleveland APL leadership is working closely with our national animal welfare community and leaders from across the country to share solutions and best practices specific to animals and animal shelters.

In the event pet owners fall ill or cannot care for their pet, it is critically important that they have an emergency back-up plan in place for their pet NOW. Pet owners should stock up on two to four weeks of pet supplies, make sure pets are wearing I.D. and are vaccinated, and, most importantly, identify a trusted family member, friend, pet sitter, or boarding kennel to assist in the event they cannot care for their pet(s). Pet owners who are required to quarantine at home due to exposure or illness should shelter their pets “in place.” This means keeping them at home or using a prearranged caretaker and NOT surrendering them to a shelter. Remember, currently, there is no evidence that animals can contract the virus; however, the possibility exists that it can live on their fur just like any other surface and pass it through contact.

In anticipation of possible staffing shortages due to employee and volunteer exposure or illness, the Cleveland APL is trying to reduce the number of animals in its care until the risk of outbreak has passed. This will ensure our capacity to provide the excellent and humane care the animals that are already at the APL require. It will also position the APL to be better able to help animals that are truly at risk and in need of immediate help. Steps being taken include:

  • Reducing non-urgent intake. The Cleveland APL is prioritizing animal intake to first bring in those who are at the greatest risk and/or in the greatest need of help. Pet owners who are not facing immediate crisis will be asked to postpone their pet’s surrender to a later date. Good Samaritans who find a stray cat will be asked to foster through our existing Foster to Surrender program. We will provide them with everything they need.
  • Increasing foster placements. Whether you are an existing Cleveland APL foster volunteer or want to help by joining our foster team, please contact If  you’re not a current foster volunteer, put “New Foster Willing” in the subject line.
  • PLACE AS MANY ANIMALS IN HOMES NOW THROUGH ADOPTION.  Beginning immediately, dog adoption fees are reduced to $50 (regularly $125) and cat adoption fees are reduced to $10 (regularly $50). Reduced fees will remain in place through closing on Sunday but may be extended. While disinfection is always a priority at the APL, additional precautions are being taken. Team members and visitors are being asked to wash or sanitize their hands upon entering and leaving the building and in between touching animals. There is hand sanitizer available in every area of the building, and frequently touched surfaces are being sanitized even more frequently. In the event a large number of people arrive at one time, we will only allow 20 visitors or adopters in at a time.

The Cleveland APL is following Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. Visitors who are in a high-risk category, who have recently traveled by plane, train or to a known hot spot, or who have a fever, cough or shortness of breath should do the same.

“This is an extremely challenging situation for everyone – animals, too,” shared President & CEO Sharon Harvey. “The Cleveland APL is committed to continuing its mission-critical work for animals, but we are going to need our community’s support as we navigate these uncertain times. Clevelanders have shown time and time again that they’re there when the going gets tough. Together, we are unstoppable. The animals and the Cleveland APL need you – now is the time to make a difference.”