In another step to help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order halting non-essential operations at veterinary clinics throughout the state. Whitmer is also urging veterinarians and veterinarian technicians in Michigan to limit their use of personal protection equipment due to shortages for health care workers.

As WDIV reports, Whitmer signed executive order 2020-34 on Thursday to clarify executive order 2020-32’s restrictions for vet clinics in Michigan, including what is considered essential procedures. The order states:

“For purposes of this order, ‘non-essential veterinary services’ means all nonagricultural veterinary services other than those that are:

  1. necessary to preserve the life of an animal, as determined by a licensed
  2. necessary to treat serious pain that threatens the health and safety of an
    animal, as determined by a licensed veterinarian;
  3. necessary to euthanize an animal, as determined by a licensed veterinarian;
  4. necessary to treat or prevent the transmission of any infectious disease that
    can be transmitted between animals and human beings, as determined by a
    licensed veterinarian.”

That means pet owners won’t be able to get their animals spayed or neutered. The governor’s office is also advising that veterinary staff utilize telemedicine appointments as much as possible while the order is in effect.

Michigan Humane revised our veterinary procedures on March 20 to limit human-to-human contact, adopting a drive-thru service at vet clinics.

“Routine sterilization of companion animals (spay and neuter) is clearly a hallmark of preventing unwanted births and animals surrendered to shelters. With the suspension of these procedures, shelters across the country anticipate that, in time, this will create additional pressures on sheltering homeless animals going forward,” says Dr. Robert Fisher, senior VP of compliance and regulatory affairs at Michigan Humane.

“However, this must be taken in context with the current pandemic of COVID-19. Shelters and veterinary clinics have a legal and moral obligation to assist in the effort to mitigate the devastating effect it is having on human health. Animal care givers can do their part by conserving much needed supplies such as PPE that can be dedicated to human health care workers and first responders. Additionally, by limiting nonessential contact with the public though social distancing, the spread of the disease can be reduced.”

Photo credit: Devan Bianco, Michigan Humane