Cleaning

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When we think of cleaning protocols, often the focus is on cleaning cat cages and dog runs. However, germs are tracked by human and animal traffic throughout any shelter. Often the greatest threat to overall Centre “health” is the contamination effect that staff and volunteers have directly. Different protocols and products are needed for different areas and items, some of which are listed:

  • Hands
  • Main lobby, offices and hallways, including phones, keyboards, etc.
  • Every door knob, including pushbars
  • Dog runs, including central walkways, walls, doors, gates, etc.
  • Cat rooms, including floors, walls, behind cages
  • Quarantine and isolation areas
  • Veterinary clinic and medical/surgical areas, including instruments and equipment
  • All indoor and outdoor animal areas, such as grooming, treatment rooms, intake rooms, visiting rooms, training areas, exercise yards, etc.
  • Vehicles, carriers and transport cages
  • Employee clothing including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Bedding and soft furnishings
  • Dishes, toys, and litter boxes
  • Tools, such as poop scoopers and mops and buckets
  • Ventilation and heating ducts
  • Storage areas (especially food storage)
  • Bathrooms, windows

What really needs cleaning and disinfection?

  • You move about shelters much more than animals do. Investing in keeping our hands, arms, clothing and feet clean (either by cleaning or by use of protective garments) will help prevent spread of disease. We are the greatest risk to spreading fomites throughout the shelter.
  • Pre-vaccination surfaces. It is imperative that animals have contact with especially clean surfaces when they first arrive since they may have no protection from vaccination, such as animal transport vehicles, carriers, exam surfaces and clothing of intake staff.
  • Animal housing between occupants. Pay special attention to kitten, puppy and sick animal areas
  • High contact surfaces. “Get-acquainted rooms”, aisles, exercise areas, door knobs, telephones etc.
  • Daily cleaning and disinfection for pathogens of special environmental concern, e.g. Ringworm, Parvovirus

Who gets cleaned and disinfected first?

Proceed from the cleanest areas of the building housing the most vulnerable animals to the most contaminated areas and the least vulnerable animals. This will help you avoid spreading disease from sick to healthy animals. The animal housing facility must be cleaned in the following order:

  • Adoptable kittens/puppies
  • Adoptable adult animals
  • Stray/quarantine kittens/puppies
  • Stray/quarantine adult animals
  • Isolation areas

Other animals that are likely to be healthy but may have compromised immune systems, such as those recovering from spay/neuter surgery or being treated for other non-infectious conditions, should also be cleaned relatively early in the daily cycle.

 

Separate brushes, mops and other supplies must be provided for each of these areas.

What cleaning and disinfection products should be used?

A clear understanding of the definition and function of different cleaning and disinfection products is important to design an effective cleaning and disinfection protocol. Three types of products are generally used for environmental cleaning and disinfection:

 

  • Soap/detergent. Cleaning agent which works by suspending dirt and grease and removing organic material. Does not kill harmful microorganisms.
  • Disinfectant. Chemical agent which kills harmful microorganisms. Does not necessarily remove dirt or grease.
  • Degreaser. More powerful soap/detergent specially formulated to penetrate layers of dried-on body oils and other greasy debris. This product is used infrequently to remove built up grease or body oil.(e.g. when dogs rub repeatedly against a wall or door jam).

Effective cleaning and disinfection requires applying a germicidal agent to a basically clean surface.

  • We must use both detergent and disinfectant products.
  • Detergents in themselves do nothing to kill germs.
  • Disinfectants can also have detergent properties (e.g.Prevail and PeroxigardPlus), but many (such as bleach) do not.
  • Most disinfectants used in shelters are inactivated by organic material to some extent (such as feces, kitty litter, saliva, sneeze marks and plain old dirt), so if they are not applied to a clean surface, they simply will not work.
  • Periodically, a stronger degreaser should be used to deal with body oils and other grunge that builds up in kennels over time and can render disinfectants ineffective.
  • Disposable rubber gloves (or gloves of an alternate material, eg. latex, nitrile) must be worn when cleaning and disinfecting.