Coronavirus and pets: What you should know


With coronavirus on the forefront of everyone’s minds, pet owners can be reassured that their relationships with their dogs and cats are safe, and can serve as a source of comfort during a crisis.

Best Friends Animal Society’s mission is to end the killing of pets in America’s shelters and to lead the effort to achieve no-kill for dogs and cats nationwide by 2025. So when fear and uncertainty spread through our communities – as is occurring as we follow the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19 – doubt can disrupt our normal way of life, even affecting the choices we make about our companion animals.

While pets may be impacted by this crisis on several levels, one way they are not affected is by contracting or spreading COVID-19.

“Currently, multiple health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and the American Veterinary Medical Association have stated that pets and domestic animals are not at risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society. “We are obviously concerned about any health risks to our dogs and cats, but we encourage those with pets to steer clear of alarmist messages that might scare them into thinking they can catch this virus from their animals. We are especially concerned that this fear may result in an increase in pets being relinquished to shelters unnecessarily.”

As communities across the country face uncertainty about the spread of coronavirus, some people may consider surrendering their pets to local shelters. People who are feeling concerned about their health and financial stability for the coming weeks and months may feel overwhelmed caring for their pets.

Some have begun expressing a fear that they will become ill and won’t be able to provide for their pets. Animal shelters are bracing themselves for the possibility of fewer adoptions and fewer foster homes, as people choose to go out less and less.

Best Friends suggests focusing on what we do know: Right now, people should continue to follow recommended preventive actions, such as thoroughly washing hands and avoiding crowds whenever possible, especially if you are in a high-risk group as identified by the experts.

People can help reduce the impact on local shelters by committing to keep their pets safe at home, adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group and reaching out to foster or donate to support the animals in their community.

“With so much news circulating about coronavirus, it’s important to seek out updated information from reliable expert sources and avoid speculation and focus on the information we do already know,” Castle added.


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