Changes to volunteer roles
We would like to thank all of our volunteers for providing such amazing support during this challenging time. We will get through this together.
We’ve made a number of changes to our key volunteering roles.
We are incredibly grateful for the dedication and generosity of our puppy walkers and boarders, especially in these challenging times. Your health and safety, and the health and wellbeing of the puppies and dogs you look after, is extremely important to us.
The following information has been developed to address any questions you may have at this time.
To date, there is no evidence that companion animals / dogs play a role in the spread of this or that they can themselves become infected or unwell with this strain of coronavirus, despite some articles circulating on media and social media. We have taken guidance from our chief vet and have been advised that whilst it would be possible for a dog to harbour the virus on its coat, it would be very unlikely that this would pose a transmission risk.
All regional centres and local community teams are now closed and all formal dog training has ceased. Training dogs should not be taken into any Guide Dog sites and nor will they be collected from homes by staff for training.
Training/boarding dogs shouldn’t be taken into public access areas at this time such as shops and supermarkets, this will be reviewed regularly following government guidelines.
With current restrictions on socialising in place, training/boarding dogs can be walked and/or free run daily as part of your one form of exercise a day. Free running guidelines and social distancing should always be followed. Although face to face visits have ceased, your local Guide Dog staff teams will be contactable to give advice, address any concerns and answer any questions you have about the dog or other related issues.
Please note that when leaving your home to take part in exercise, during which you may wish to take your boarding/training dog with you, the government has advised this should not involve getting into a car to travel to a destination, therefore we advise staying locally and picking locations you can walk to from home. Please speak to your local Guide Dogs staff teams who can support in advising you of suitable spots for free running you may be able to get to locally to where you live.
Boarders who fall into the following categories at any point should contact your local Guide Dogs staff teams for advice, so that we can develop a plan together to look after you and your dog:
- If you are in an ‘at risk’ category e.g. are over 70; have a long term health condition; have a weakened immune system; or are pregnant
- If you need to self isolate
- If you have been advised by the government that you need to ‘shield’
Our local teams are currently working on emergency procedures for as or when any such necessary removal of a training/boarding dog should arise. When and if this affects any of our boarder volunteers a Guide Dog staff member will be in touch to explain the process and make suitable arrangement with you. We have also provided written guidance to those who are kindly offering emergency boarding to our dogs.
For those dependent on food being ordered it is worth highlighting that there are no current issues with dog food supplies but Guide Dogs have put a maximum two bag order in place to stop panic buying to allow all to have access to food for dogs. Where necessary food will be delivered by direct delivery. In urgent situations Guide Dogs may deliver food to you - a Guide Dog staff member will arrange this with you if this becomes necessary.
Local veterinary practices are now generally only providing emergency veterinary treatment. Most activities by vets are likely to have been postponed. It is a good idea to contact your veterinary practice to understand the service they have in place should you require them in an emergency. Please contact your local Guide Dog staff teams should you have any questions or concerns regarding the health of the dog.
For insurance purposes no one else should walk the dog being boarded if they are not registered with Guide Dogs – this includes free running.
Looking after your dog
Emergency dog boarding
Guide Dogs have taken the decision to immediately suspend the delivery of all face to face services, including the delivery of the My Guide partnerships. With immediate effect all partnership visits are cancelled and no face to face contact should take place until further notice. It is felt at this time that these measures are necessary to protect our staff, service users and volunteers. Restrictions also include the volunteer role - My Guide free running/walking of dogs. We understand you may be concerned about this, so we are providing separate advice to boarders and puppy walkers on this.
We are however committed to maintaining regular contact to reduce the impact of our suspended service and associated isolation. We have reviewed current processes and have agreed the continuation of the service as far as is reasonable and possible via telephone and digital channels.
There is an opportunity for existing volunteers to help and assist us with this, where able and willing, therefore staff will be in touch to talk through our plans.
Following government advice, we’ve made the decision to cancel or rearrange volunteer speaker events until the end of May and no new events should be booked until we have further government advice. In addition, we have also cancelled all face to face speaker training courses during this period.
Our Supporter Care Team is currently contacting supporters who have requested or booked a speaker during this period to explain our circumstances and to make a note for us to contact them at a later date when we have more information on the changing nature of coronavirus. They’re also contacting volunteer speakers who are waiting to attend a training course with information about cancellations or alternative online training.
We’ll continue to publish updates on our website, speaker Facebook page, as well as contacting you with the latest developments. Speaker Coordinators are also relaying this message to their speakers locally.
Following the government’s advice on limiting face-to-face contact and non-essential travel, no driving activities will/should be carried out.
We’ve been closely monitoring the ongoing situation and following the latest government advice. As a result, we're advising all fundraising groups to cancel or postpone any fundraising events that have been booked between now and the end of May and no new events should be booked until we have further government advice.
If your fundraising group is made up of volunteers in any of the ‘at risk’ categories — are 70 or over, have a long-term health condition, pregnant or have a weakened immune system — and are being advised to socially isolate for 12 weeks then your events should be cancelled for this extended period.