My name is Alice Peek, and I am the CEO and a co-founder of Companion Bridge.
With the explosion of COVID-19, we are all facing difficult times not only as a nation but also as a global population. The closure of non-essential businesses and the “shelter in place” orders of so many states have left people without work, anxious about their health, and uncertain if they will have a job to go back to. This impacts everyone, including this little nonprofit.
Companion Bridge was created to help people in medical crisis with their pets via education on our resources page, emotional support via email, and telephone and financial support in the form of grants and fundraising for people in economic hardship. Donations to our general fund and the community fundraising events we attend or host allow us to provide immediate grants to pay for animal emergencies. In this chaotic time, all of our planned events have been cancelled for the immediate future, and general donations are way down, forcing us to turn away those in need.
We are proud of the work we do, and we absolutely love helping people and pets, but we would also love to not be needed. Having safe and happy pets that only need routine medical care would be our perfect world scenario. The reality is that pets get sick and accidents do happen, but in this time of “things we can’t control,” let’s be extra careful and try to control what we can. Just as we are all practicing social distancing, staying home, and washing our hands to stay healthy, with some extra vigilance we can help our pets stay out of the emergency room as well. Here are some of the emergencies we see most commonly that also are very costly: physical trauma, poisoning, and foreign body surgery.
Physical Trauma encompasses everything from broken bones to torn ligaments, and most often the stories we get are due to a pet being hit by a car, jumping off something high, or playing too rough. This is the time to make sure the entire family and anyone that visits is conscious of closing doors and gates. If you’re allowing your dog playdates, supervise closely and stop any very rough play. If you are fostering or have recently adopted an animal, now is the time to be extra careful as it takes a new pet time to decompress and adapt to its new life and routine. Too many dogs slip their collar at a new home and end up being hit by a car while being on the loose in unfamiliar territory. Many rescue groups suggest a martingale collar to take new dogs on their walks, as they cannot back out of it. If a martingale will not work for you, then opt for a harness.
Poisoning can be from human food, plants, chemicals, products containing Xylitol, or medications. Take the time to make sure all chemicals are stored up high or, even better, behind a closed cabinet door. Read the labels of items in your home for Xylitol (you will be amazed how many products now contain this sweetener – even toothpaste), and make sure these items are out of reach, especially from curious puppies. Some houseplants are very poisonous, and it does not take much to harm a small animal. Most people keep medications in a drawer or cabinet and take them out only as needed. This is a good practice. Make sure they are being put away and out of reach.
Foreign Body Surgery is needed when an animal ingests something that cannot pass on its own and must be removed before it damages the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This surgery is more common for dogs, but we have had cats suffer it as well. Surgical removal of such objects is invasive and will involve exploratory surgery of the stomach or the intestine, depending on where the object is lodged. Common objects include socks, bones, rawhides, pieces of dog toy, sticks, and rocks. This is why it is important to pick up items and always monitor pets when they’re playing with or chewing on items.
Our worst moments are when we have to deny an applicant with an urgent need due to lack of funds, but unfortunately that is where we are at this point in time.
We are still here if you need an ear or help finding resources, and our resources page has lots of information. There is too much misinformation from unreliable sources about pets being able to transmit the virus, so our COVID-19 Info page also has the latest from the CDC and Idexx about the risk of COVID-19 and your pets.
Our sincerest wish is for you and your pets to stay safe and for all to emerge on the other side of COVID-19 healthy.
Love. Donate. Live
Alice and the Companion Bridge Team