The newly mandated regional stay-at-home order is well into its second week, but with so many exceptions and gray areas, it can still be confusing.
The order also may be around for a while. It’s here to stay at least until Dec. 28 but could be extended much further based on Southern California’s Intensive Care Unit capacity, which is still at 0% regionally.
The following is a summary for pet owners who may be uncertain about what services remain open or are ordered closed in Long Beach.
Veterinarians are open, with modifications to their usual procedures, for example, curbside drop-off and pickup, limited number of clients in the waiting room and mandatory mask wearing for human clients. Several veterinarians post their protocols in detail on their websites, providing updates as necessary. If your pet is sick or in need of vaccines, contact your vet for procedures.
Long Beach parks and beaches remain open, and so do dog parks and Rosie’s Dog Beach. Several of the dog parks are on the small side, so visitors must be mindful of maintaining social distancing between others not in the same household. The CDC and the World Organization for Animal Health report a low risk of animal-to-human COVID-19 transmission, so if you feel safe visiting dog parks, your dog will likely thank you for it. Don’t put a mask on them, though—despite the cute memes, they’re unnecessary, they could interfere with your dog’s breathing, and your dog will definitely not thank you for it.
Rosie’s Dog Beach provides a list of safety practices for dog park visitors here.
As with grocery outlets, pharmacies and convenience outlets, pet supply outlets are still allowed to provide food and other needs for animals. Masks and distancing between customers at checkout lines are required..
Long Beach allows animal boarding and pet-sitting facilities to remain open, with proper safety protocols practiced.
“We basically follow the general guidelines—we allow a limited number of people in the lobby, we wear masks when we’re here, we wash our hands, we disinfect everything as soon as clients walk in or out. Clients must wear masks.” said Lori Garcia, head supervisor of the Loving Pet Hotel and Sitter.
The regional stay-at-home order calls for the closure of pet groomers and dog walkers, which fall into a category called “limited services.”
“The intent of the order is to reduce people mixing. For this reason, limited services are closed, and only essential activities are allowed,” read a communication from the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Public Affairs. “Pet grooming and dog walking are both limited services and are closed under the Regional Stay at Home Order. Pet boarding and pet sitting are essential and are allowed to continue operating under the Order.”
Some business operators seemed perplexed about the protocols regarding grooming and dog walking. Alex Warner, owner of Alpha Pet Care in Long Beach, still maintains his doggy day care but has shut down grooming operations in accordance with stay-at-home orders, citing the detailed COVID-19 policies and guidelines on Alpha Pet Care’s website.
“We take all the typical precautions—everyone must wear a mask, there is distancing. We have copious amounts of hand sanitizers. And the nice thing is that we’re outdoors, not inside.”
But Warner questions the intent of shutting down grooming and dog-walking operations. Dog walking is a growing business model and source of income for people who understand canine behavior. It’s also a convenience for people who live with dogs and may be too busy at home working to walk them. Warner said that although dog owners are encouraged to walk their own dogs for exercise, he feels that eliminating grooming and the convenience of dog walkers is heavy handed.
“I think that [the pandemic] is serious, and I know that we need to wear masks and take precautions,” he said. “This time, though, we need a scalpel and not a cudgel. Did any of [the creators of the stay-at-home order] actually pick up a phone and reach out to a dog walker?”
Grooming, too, has limited contact with humans.
“It’s true that grooming is an indoor operation and you have dryers blowing air around. But retail and grocery stores are open, and they do a volume business,” he said. “And there’s no interaction between humans [in the grooming area].”
Pet-supply stores have closed off their grooming services in regions under the stay-at-home order, including Long Beach.
“Following the direction of local authorities, grooming services are temporarily unavailable at our location in 6500 Pacific Coast Hwy. We wholeheartedly believe providing grooming services is essential to the health and wellness of pets, and continue to do everything in our power to ensure Petco employees maintain their own health and safety while performing these services where our grooming operations remain open,” read a statement from Petco’s communications office.
Healthy Spot, a regional independent chain, has apparently not closed down its grooming services. A post on the chain’s blog stated, “In response to recent California stay-at-home orders, we wanted to assure you that all Healthy Spot locations will continue to remain open with no planned changes to our current service offerings.” The post describes the sanitation and distancing protocols that the stores will take to ensure safety for the human clients. A request for clarification to Healthy Spot’s management went unanswered.
Alternately, two of the four stores in the local LaunderPet chain have closed temporarily. The management has stopped providing grooming services and self-service washing facilities in the stores located on Broadway in Long Beach and Main Street in Seal Beach, providing only food and supplies. LaunderPet owner Eric Hatch is complying with the stay-at-home orders, but he also believes that pet grooming is necessary not simply for the appearance but the wellbeing of an animal. A professional groomer can detect skin issues, rid a body of mats and trim nails, which can be difficult for dog owners and absolutely impossible for people with cats.
“Personally, I believe that pet grooming is an essential service because, unlike people, pets cannot wash or cut their hair,” Hatch said. “For people and pets, good grooming is an important part of good health.”
Read more about California state regional restrictions here.
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