Pets are being impacted across the globe by the COVID-19 outbreak, but they are not being infected by the virus.

Our pets bring us comfort and stability especially during a crisis like this. With many Americans being asked to stay home, the welfare of our pets is even more important. I have had many questions on whether our companion animals are “safe”. Medical statistics show are pets are safe from the disease, but the impact on our shelter system and rescues will be catastrophic.

Vet diagnostic company, IDEXX, tested thousands of dogs and cats in the US for Covid-19, and so far, none have tested positive for the virus.

There are only 2 known authenticated cases of dogs testing positive, both located in Hong Kong. But the animals had not shown any symptoms of the disease.

A 17 year old Pomeranian died but experts say the dog’s death was likely caused by the stress of being quarantined and separated from its owner, not the virus.

The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois stated, “The dog likely died from causes other than Covid-19 as it had never displayed any clinical signs of illness.”

Pets are being dumped daily at shelters by their families. The fear of their pets making them sick has caused panic as misinformation spreads. The effects this will have on our shelter system will be catastrophic.

In animal welfare, the biggest problem we are facing with this disease is an increase in the number of pets being dumped at shelters and rescues. We spoke with a 100 different animal rescues and 90% have said they are worried they will not be able to keep their doors open if this continues.

What are we facing with [the] COVID-19 outbreak? Our rescue still has responsibilities to the dogs we pulled and the ones being surrendered to the shelters,” said Patti Dawson, Executive Director of Dallas Dog RRR. “I am truly nervous about where this rescue will be in a few weeks as this gets worse. Will we be able to even survive?

This, coupled with that fact that county and state run shelters’ doors are closed, will only escalate the problem. With adoptions virtually halted and donations decreasing, potentially hundreds of thousands of shelter pets will be euthanized in the weeks to come. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when”.

This isn’t a crisis that only affects the US. Many countries are facing the same crisis. The Hong Kong animal-welfare authority stressed that there is currently no evidence that pets can be a source of the virus but “Under no circumstances should [owners] abandon their pets.” Thousands of pets are being abandoned in Hong Kong as this panic spreads.


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