HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - There's been a seismic change in the way people and businesses interact due the COVID-19 virus since mid-March. Students and teachers have virtual school from home. Some businesses are closed, deemed "non-essential" by Governor Phil Murphy's Executive Order 107. Businesses that remain open have had to modify the way they interact with the public.

As CDC guidelines and outlines from Trenton have affected businesses around the state, many local pet businesses have added extra precautions and changed work schedules in order to fit this demand and keep themselves and their customers safe.

Oradell Veterinary Group of Hasbrouck Heights on the Boulevard is still open for patients. Tanya Karlecke, DVM, Medical Director, explained that they are still having check-ups, rabies vaccinations, and other vaccinations for clients but with a catch: curbside service.

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When a client arrives in the parking lot, they call the office, and a worker comes to the car, takes the pet inside, and then returns the pet to the car after procedure or examinations are completed. The doctor calls the pet owners with results and when the pet is returned to the car, medications or other necessities will also be brought. This is in an effort to keep people out of the office, to continue social distancing guidelines, and to keep clients and workers safe.

Oradell Veterinary Group has also reduced its hours, now open Mondays from 9am-5pm, Fridays from 9am-5pm, and Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

Dr. Karlecke advises that it is still important to keep pets, such as dogs, active through the current situation.

“I think it's important for owners to continue their daily walks with their dogs, as long as they adhere to the six foot social distancing requirement and wear a mask (if there is a large amount of foot traffic),” said Karlecke. “Puppies who have not had all of their vaccinations should not be walked in public, but only within their backyard until their vaccination series has been completed as they are highly susceptible to canine viruses that may be fatal to them.”

“There are several different types of dog and cat toys available that can be utilized inside, but it's important that pets are monitored with them, so they are not ingested.  Be cautious when offering different types of bones and rawhides as it's very easy for items like these to become stuck within the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract and/or cause dental issues (for example fractured teeth),” said Karlecke. “I usually recommend pliable chew toys for dogs that cannot be broken apart and are more gentle on their teeth.”

The Animal Hospital of Hasbrouck Heights, also on the Boulevard, is also offering similar services in which clients stay in cars and the pets are brought from the car. 

“When clients and patients arrive at our hospital, we ask that they stay inside their car and call us to let us know they are here,” said Dr. Mia K. Frezzo.  “A technician will take a history over the phone with them and then meet them outside wearing masks and gloves to take their pet safely inside. We ask that all our clients also wear a mask per government regulations.”

“Once inside, we direct clients to the exam room window and keep them on speaker phone so that they are still fully involved in their pet's care,” said Frezzo. “Surgery drop-offs are completed in a similar matter.”

Dr. Frezzo says that this helps to limit contact and that the animal hospital is utilizing emails and phone calls to primarily communicate with customers to continue this. She also similarly advises clients to take advantage of all the spare time that people have with their pets.

“This is a great time to involve extra play time with your pets. Taking your dog on a nice long walk or spending some time playing with your cat is a great way to stay active. Consider watching some videos on training -- cats can be clicker trained, too! Make an obstacle course (inside or outside) and get the whole family involved,” Dr. Frezzo, said.

A statement on the Bergen County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in Teterboro’s website reads: “Effective Tuesday, March 17th 2020, the Bergen County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center will be closed to the public and adoption hours will be suspended until further notice. This is in effort to protect our staff and the public from the dangerous spread of COVID-19.”

As the shelter is not open for operations, TAPinto did not get a response. The emergency animal control number through the website’s phone number is still active.

Mobile Paw Spa in Wood-Ridge was originally shut down as part of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order closing non-essential businesses on March 21. But as of mid-April, it has reopened when the governor expanded the order to include pet groomers and pet daycare businesses as essential. Natalia Arrazcaeta, owner Mobile Paw Spa, says that with all the extra time now, a perfect way to care for your dog is to make sure that you give extra combings, that you may have not had time for with previous schedules.

She does not suggest self-grooming dogs, though. Bringing dogs for walks will also help to file their nails. For Mobile Paw Spa, luckily the times have not lost them any customers, and Arrazcaeta is still buried in work. 

“I am having to work seven days a week 10 to 12-hour days to try and catch up with my appointments. I usually groom between six to eight dogs daily, six days a week on average and have recurring appointments,” said Arrazcaeta. “Luckily as of right now I have no lost clients, but it’s still early in the recovery.”

Hounds Town Bergen, a doggy daycare in Lodi, has also adapted their practices to adhere with the CDC guidelines. Curbside pick- ups and drop offs are offered to pet owners, and clients are not permitted in the lobby for too long. The staff is masked when at work, as well. For the business, stay-at-home orders by the government have left them with a decrease in pups, as people at home do not need their pups watched.

For the many healthcare workers in Bergen County who still rely on Hounds Town while at work, there is a 20% discount for the month of May, as a ‘thank you’ for their sacrifices on the front lines. With reopening procedures in New Jersey in order under Governor Murphy, its day spa will be open Monday, May 4 for groomings.  Steven Garibell, co-owner of Hounds Town Bergen, says that it is still important to keep your dog in a routine, to prevent problems when life goes back to normal.

“Most importantly try not to break your dog’s routine,” said Garibell. “If they attend daycare, try to keep them on the schedule they have. Your dog is going to get confused which could possibly lead to some separation anxiety after being home with you 24/7 for so long, then all of a sudden you are back to work again.”

“If you are home with them, try to introduce some nose games to help with mental stimulation and make sure you are giving them lots of outdoor play time and walks,” he said.


Editor’s Note: Emily Condon is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the “Pilot’s Log,” Hasbrouck Heights High School's newspaper. In addition, she is a member of the Student Council, Junior Executive Board, the Black Hole, head organizer of Spirit Week, co-organizer of the Junior Formal with History teacher Catherine Cassidy, and member of the indoor and outdoor Track and Field teams.


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