Facing COVID-19 with our community…

Eyes Ears Nose and Paws is carefully monitoring news and guidance about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and like you, we are concerned about the challenge facing our community in this moment of uncertainty. I want to share what EENP is doing to ensure the safety of our people and dogs as well as the safety of the larger community.

EENP is committed to protecting the safety of our employees, volunteers, clients, ABEL trainers, and dogs as well as the families of those groups to the greatest extent possible. EENP is working to proactively contribute to larger public health goals like social distancing in an effort to control the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in our community.

Effective immediately, EENP is significantly curtailing non-essential in-person activities and moving towards remote work, instruction, and support of trainers and teams wherever feasible. Essential activities include ensuring the welfare of EENP's dogs and placed teams.

What does this look like in our day-to-day operations?        

Group Activities

EENP is canceling all organized group activities for the next month (through 4/14) except for vet visits. We will assess regularly and extend cancelations if needed. This includes furlough and young puppy classes, volunteer trainings, client meetings, client interviews, group dog training activities, and PR and fundraising events. Ongoing events are canceled until further notice.

Office Operations

The majority of staff will be working from home. Fortunately, EENP already has robust remote work capabilities in place. We will have one staff member at the office every day to accept deliveries, check mail, and assist with in-person needs like distribution of food and medications or transfer of dogs. We expect to assign one staff member to be responsible for the office for blocks of days rather than rotating staff members daily. Office hours will be shortened to 10 am to 4 pm but may change based on need so we ask visitors to check before stopping by. Office cleaning will be focused on frequent disinfection of high-touch areas. In-office volunteer opportunities will be suspended until further notice.


EENP is moving to only phone/video meetings with clients until further notice, except in situations where there is a health/welfare concern or the functioning of the partnership is at risk.


DPS has placed all prisons on a 30 day quarantine effective 3/16 which means EENP staff cannot enter the prisons. DPS is allowing dogs to remain in prison and one staff member or volunteer will be able to go to each facility weekly to drop off and pick up furlough dogs, supplies, and journals outside the prison. Protocols for urgent and emergent veterinary issues in prison will not change. ABEL dogs will remain in prison and will stay on the same furlough rotation as long as DPS allows us to rotate dogs. We have a plan in place in the event we have to pull dogs from ABEL suddenly.

Dog Caregivers

EENP is reducing public training expectations for dog caregivers, especially young puppy trainers and furlough trainers. Trainers will continue to submit weekly training reports. In-person group classes are canceled until further notice and EENP staff will provide increased training support and virtual training classes by Slack and phone.

Furlough trainers

Furlough trainers will continue to have dogs and we will maintain regular furlough rotations as long as the NC Department of Public Safety (DPS) allows us to pull dogs from ABEL weekly. Furlough trainers will continue to submit weekly training reports but will not be expected to get their dogs into specific environments. We do still encourage furlough trainers to take their dogs with them if they are already going out. We want to greatly reduce the number of trips into the community that EENP is generating, but we also want to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible if they are happening anyhow as our dogs will have greatly reduced training opportunities in upcoming months. Furlough class is canceled until further notice.

Young puppy trainers

Young puppy trainers (YPTs) will be asked to keep their puppies with them if possible. YPT classes are canceled until further notice and the only in-person expectation of YPTs is that pups are brought to the office for scheduled regular vet visits. We recognize that many YPTs are UNC students and have been encouraged to return home for the rest of the semester. YPTs who will be out of the local area with their dogs will need to communicate clearly with EENP before leaving town to be sure the dog is receiving monthly medications and is not needed in the area for any reason. If YPTs are unable to keep their puppies with them, EENP will arrange alternate care.

Vet Care and Dog Supplies

EENP will focus on ensuring dogs are vaccinated and have annual wellness vet checks at the earliest appropriate opportunity so that any future disruption in vet care would not put any of our dogs out of compliance with veterinary protocol or local law. We will continue with the next scheduled vet visit date at EENP’s office but we will have caregivers drop dogs off and then pick up after the visit (no staying for the visit). We expect to proceed with later vet visits as scheduled but will reassess after the next visit.

EENP will cushion our dog food inventory with an additional month’s supply of food, distributed between the office, ABEL, and community caregivers. This will allow us to ensure we have enough food in case of a short-term supply disruption and we can get extra food to caregivers in case they need to quarantine with their dog.

Thank You!

I am so grateful for your ongoing support as we face this unexpected challenge together. We do not know what the upcoming months will bring. I will update this response as conditions change and plans evolve. I continue to be amazed by the resilience and generosity of the EENP community. Your patience and support are what will keep EENP -- and our larger community -- going through this difficult time.

Maria Ikenberry, Executive Director

Updated March 14, 2020
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