March 24, 2020

Question: We are a pet crematory and wondering how do we handle business if things go into a “full lockdown” situation due to COVID-19? Are we considered an essential business at that point?

Answer: There has been some information released on pets and COVID-19. Most experts are currently suggesting that pets can possibly spread the virus just as any other contaminated surface or object would. This means that if you touch them, and they have the virus on them, and you then touch your mouth, nose, or possibly eyes – then the virus could potentially be transmitted. However, experts also currently suggest that it is highly unlikely because pet hair is porous and especially fibrous, and absorbs and traps the virus, making it harder to contract through simple touch. Please see the following AVMA FAQ on this issue: (

It is suggested that pet deathcare professionals practice the same standards as other deathcare professionals when making removals. Removals should be made using PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to reduce any potential risk and best practices should be followed concerning cleaning and disinfecting. COVID-19 is transmissible from person-to-person by droplet spray (sneezing and coughing) and close contact with someone who is infected. While pets may not be carriers, it is possible that your staff could be around people that are infected, so practice safe removals to limit potential infection.

  • Use your PPE, which would include a N95 mask and gloves along with all other PPE. Consider clothing that can be removed and laundered and kept away from personal clothing.
  • Actively disinfect your equipment after every use. We should do this to a higher level now and begin to disinfect the service vehicles after each use. We can do this with chlorine bleach diluted at a 1:10 ratio. An example of that would be 1.5 cups of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. This ratio is also effective to use inside any rooms, to disinfect cupboards and tabletops, and mop the floor with.
  • Properly train those that do removals on what is expected of them in controlling the spread of “any virus or transmissible disease.” I say that because it happens all too frequently that those doing removals are untrained retirees or new students entering the profession.
  • Gloves MUST be worn during the transfer. I know many are worried about the “appearance” of wearing gloves, but we need stop this and act professionally for the health and safety of all. Gloves and appropriate PPE should always be worn. Disinfection using appropriate disinfecting sprays should always take place before and after moving the deceased. There is varying information on the length the COVID-19 virus lives on surfaces so we must err on the side of caution.

In regard to the “essential business” part of the question, this is an ongoing issue. From what we know currently, the Federal Government has issued a recommendation that all deathcare services be identified as essential businesses ( Currently, the Federal recommendation is only a suggestion and we are seeing State and local orders being issued. Some are including the Federal recommendations; others are writing their own – so it will be dependent on each order.

Stating that, there are some states that have included vets as essential businesses, and also included deathcare; so, the argument is that you could be viewed as essential. Keep in mind each state will be different, and simply because you are not listed does not mean you are excluded. If you are listed as non-essential, then you would be excluded. But again, most states are broad in their descriptions to allow necessary businesses that they may not have directly thought of when drafting the order. If you choose to proceed, just make sure you follow all other parts of the order, such as safety, distancing, etc.