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How Animal Care Providers are Responding to COVID-19

Written by Karen Sonessa

Pets and wildlife are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I spoke with animal care facilities in our area to see how they are doing and what changes they’ve made to their normal operating routine. 

The Hauppauge Animal Hospital is open during their normal hours, Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm.  Staff member Jessica told me they are seeing only sick visits at this time with no routine well visits or boarding available. They are following their normal routines of sanitation and disinfection practices, with employees wearing masks and gloves at all times. As an added precaution, staff members are occupying separate stations, with one person per station.  

Owners bringing their animals in for appointments should call the hospital from the parking lot when they arrive, and not leave their cars. Animals will be brought into the hospital by staff, and owners will wait in the parking lot and be available by phone if the staff needs to speak with them.  

The hospital may be reached at 631-265-5551. They are located at 521 Townline Road in Hauppauge.

Towne Line Veterinary Group

TLVG’s hours during the crisis are Mon 8am-7pm, Tues 9am-11:30am & 4pm-6:30pm, Wed & Thur 8am-7pm, Fri 8am-4:30pm. Saturday hours alternate 9am-2pm and 9am-4pm. I spoke with Megan who told me they are concentrating on seeing sick pets, but if you have questions about a well-pet visit to call them. Clients call from the parking lot when they arrive, then wait in the parking lot after a staff member takes the animal inside for an examination.

All employees wear masks and gloves throughout their shifts, and the hospital is disinfected daily. Additionally, the hospital will consider boarding your animal due to an emergency situation. Please call for details. 

The hospital may be reached at 631-617-5595. They are located at 601 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Ste 150, in Hauppauge.

The Town of Islip Animal Shelter

The Town of Islip Animal Shelter is currently not open to the public but they are fully staffed as usual. Heather, an employee at the shelter, told me the animals are getting extra attention from the staff because they are not occupied with the public! The shelter is maintaining their usual levels of sanitation and do not need to take extra steps, as the public is not admitted and the animals are not carriers. 

The shelter is still offering adoptions, for serious adoption inquiries. Rather than in-person browsing, the shelter asks that you view animals on their Facebook page under photos, on, or If you are interested in any of the animals, email them at and they will send you an application to complete. Once the application is approved, they will contact you for an appointment to meet-and-greet the animal outside. 

They are not accepting owner surrenders at this time.  The shelter may be reached Mon-Fri, 9:30am-4pm, at (631) 224-5660. They are located at 210 South Denver Ave. in Bay Shore.

Baxter’s Pet Pantry 

Baxter’s Pet Pantry is operated by LI Cares.  I spoke with Dawn, who just started volunteering at the Hauppauge Center this week! At this time, the LI Cares location at 60 Plant Ave. in Hauppauge is offering one free bag of cat or dog food per visit as long as supplies are available.  She recommended you call them first at 631-582-FOOD to inquire about availability, as supplies may fluctuate on a daily basis. Their hours are Monday to Friday 8:30am-4pm. 

Dawn explained to me that although the Plant Ave. location carries pet food, Baxter’s Pet Pantry is located at 161 North Wellwood Avenue, Lindenhurst, 631-991-8106. They have a larger supply of food and also offer toys, feeding bowls, cat litter and other pet supplies. I also spoke with manager Catherine, who told me donations are very much appreciated. You can donate pet supplies at the warehouse, located at 10 David’s Drive in Hauppauge, Monday-Friday 8am-4pm. Donations can be left in boxes in the facility lobby.  

Please call them with any questions. The staff is compassionate, friendly, and they are easy to reach via phone.

The Suffolk County SPCA

The Suffolk County SPCA services the humane needs for animals in Suffolk County since 1984.

Despite COVID-19 separation rules, the SPCA is still responding to cases of alleged animal abuse. They are classified as an essential service and can be reached 24/7.  The officers with SPCA are peace officers and have received PPE, although limited in amount. A staff member told me they are in particular need of N95 respirator face masks, hand sanitizer, coverall suits, and disinfecting wipes for responding personnel.  Please call them at 631-382-7722 for pickup or delivery of items you can donate. 

If you witness any incident of animal cruelty or neglect in Suffolk County, please contact them at  (631) 382-7722. All calls will be kept confidential. They are located at Suffolk County Offices, North County Complex, 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Bldg. 16, Hauppauge.

Sweetbriar Nature Center

Sweetbriar Nature Center will be closed to the public until further notice. They requested if you have concerns about injured wildlife, to call 631-979-6344; if someone does not answer, leave a message and they will get back to you. Please do not bring injured wildlife to the facility without calling. 

The Center has over 100 animals receiving food and rehabilitation. As all of their public and school programming has been canceled, they are in great need of funds to care for these animals. They ask that you check their website at for upcoming programs. They are offering live virtual yoga for a donation.

On a personal note: I was impressed and moved by the devotion all of these workers exhibited. Caring for animals also involves caring for their owners. They are providing essential services while exposing themselves to the public and risking their own health (none of these workers have N95 masks, only standard surgical or cloth masks).  

My daughter is a veterinary tech. I asked her what we all could do to help our visits to the vet go smoothly. Her suggestions:

Please be patient. Veterinary hospitals are often working with reduced staff at any one time to protect staff and public health. Appointments may require more wait time.

They are doing intake out in the parking lots, which includes pet history. Please jot down symptoms or concerns before your visit so you won’t leave out pertinent information. 

Please have your phone charged or bring a charger with you. The staff may need to call you for more information while you wait in your car. They will also need to call you before they bring your pet out.

Please have cats in carriers and dogs on leashes. They do not want an animal escaping when the staff member opens the car door!

Please leave all non-critical services such as nail trimming to another time. 

Outside of normal hospital hours, emergency veterinary hospitals are still open 24/7:

VMCLI, West Islip 631-587-0800

Animal Emergency Service, Selden 631-698-2225

West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center, Huntington 631-351-6116