RAS and COVID-19

We are following the latest recommendations from the Monroe County Health Department, the CDC and WHO, and top industry experts throughout the animal welfare industry. Visit the CDC site to learn more about COVID-19 and your pets. 

RAS has made the following adjustments in response to COVID19 to minimize the number of people visiting the shelter and the number of animals housed at the shelter:OREO4


  • Field Services response is limited to priority incidents involving human or animal safety.

  • The shelter is currently closed but we are supporting lost pet recovery by appointment. If you reside in the City of Rochester or adjacent towns and are missing a pet, call 585-428-7274 to schedule an appointment. You can submit a Lost Pet Report online now.

  • We have many wonderful pets looking for loving homes that are available on our adoption web pages and we are coordinating pre-adoption visitations outside of the facility. Most of the animals are being temporarily sent to foster homes and visitations and adoptions are proceeding by appointment only. If you are interested in adopting a pet, visit our Dog and Cat pages, then call 585-428-7274 or email, to request a visitation.

  • Animals are being moved from the shelter into foster homes as soon as possible and adoptions are occurring from those homes. We are looking for more people to join the Foster Care team so please submit a form if you want to help us care for our community's homeless pets.

  • We have implemented virtual meet-and-greets with animals and prospective adopters using video conferencing.

  • We are screening all employees, volunteers, and visitors seeking entry to our facility, including temperature checks.

  • We use hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the shelter, and high-touch areas are being cleaned daily.

Empty cat cages 5.1.20

  • There are hand washing stations and hand sanitizer throughout the shelter. As always, any visitors to the shelter are encouraged to wash their hands or sanitize between touching animals to prevent the spread of any illness.

  • RAS is asking employees and clients who are sick to stay home. We are also reminding employees and all shelter visitors to wear face masks, practice good hand hygiene and social distancing, cover coughs and sneezes and get a flu shot.

  • There have been a few cases worldwide of dogs and cats becoming sick with the new coronavirus after being in close contact with people with COVID-19. This includes two cats from two separate households in Orange and Nassau Counties in New York State. There remains no evidence of people catching the virus from companion animals. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. Visit American Pets Alive for more information about why you need not worry about transmission from pets to people and a host of other topics related to your pets and the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, check out the Worms and Germs Blog to learn more about the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and animals. 

  • RAS encourages all pet-owners to have an emergency plan in place for their pets.  
    • Research potential boarding facilities to utilize in the event that boarding your pet becomes necessary. 
    • Have crates, food and extra supplies for your pet on hand in case moving them becomes necessary or if the disease spreads in the community and it becomes necessary to reduce social exposure.  
    • All animal vaccines should be up to date in the event boarding becomes necessary. 
    • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering instructions. Including the prescription from the prescribing veterinarian is also helpful. 
    • Pets should have identification including a collar with current identification tags and a registered microchip.  
    • Identify a trusted family member or friend to care for your pets if someone in your household becomes ill or is hospitalized.    

How can you help?

Make a donation. It is more important than ever to ensure we have the resources to provide general husbandry and medical care, support foster caregivers, and provide support to pet owners in need.  

Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue organization. We need to keep our shelters and foster homes empty and available for the potential increased of intakes from owners who become hospitalized and unable to provide or arrange care for their pets. Minimizing animals at the shelter also enables us to prepare for possible staffing absences related to this crisis.

Become a foster caregiver. If you are interested in helping us reduce the number of animals at the shelter during this crisis and beyond, please complete this brief form. 

Review the information about COVID-19 and pets  

Create a preparedness plan for your pets 


Rochester Animal Services recommends staying diligent in preparations, but not overreacting to COVID-19 concerns. By creating a preparedness plan ahead of time for the unlikely event it becomes necessary to put into motion, community members can do their part to ensure animal service resources do not become overwhelmed and their pets are spared unnecessary stress. 

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association states that there is no evidence that companion animals are a source of COVID-19. This is also the view of the World Health Organization. We recognize that the absence of evidence does not mean that infection is not possible and we are proceeding under the assumption that the virus may be able to survive on the hair coat of a pet for up to 72 hours. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, people with confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with other people as well as pets.