Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

Posted by Rocío CA on

“There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” —WHO (World Health Organization)

Thank you for remembering animals during this difficult time. They still need our help and we are continuing our work worldwide as well as we can despite this crisis. As always, we are so grateful for your support.

How does COVID-19 impact HSI’s dog/cat population management work globally?

Nearly every country around the world is facing the threat of COVID-19. However, some have been forced to take stronger measures to contain the virus from spreading. At HSI, the safety of our staff and the safety of the people who come into contact with our staff is of utmost importance. Therefore, our field operations have been halted temporarily, and will resume when it is safe to do so, as determined by entities such as the WHO and each country’s government.

What is HSI doing during this crisis?

With the aim of preventing pet abandonment and/or fear regarding community animals, HSI is continuing to support our colleagues around the world and provide them with up-to-date information so they can keep their governments, communities and fellow citizens informed. We are also making special efforts to ensure animals are considered in the planning of the lockdowns, and veterinary services and pet food are considered essential services to continue during this time.

In China, there have been some isolated reports of dogs and cats being killed in an attempt to contain the virus. However, our partner groups on the ground have found that many of these reports were not factual. HSI has been supporting partner groups which have been rescuing and helping abandoned pets and informing the public that dogs and cats do not pose a risk. In several cities, at the request of evacuated pet owners, animal advocates have been entering apartments to care for pets.

We are also calling on governments around the world to help protect public health by permanently banning wildlife trade, transport and consumption. Take action: Add your name. Also, read our White Paper (available in several languages), “A Ban on Wildlife Trade, Markets, Transport and Consumption Would Significantly Reduce the Risk of Another Pandemic,” as well as our White Paper on the the connection between animal agriculture, viral zoonoses and global pandemics.

Our U.S.-based affiliate, The Humane Society of the United States, in partnership with the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, has made available the first coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit for animal shelters to help them respond to the needs of the communities that they serve. While created for a U.S. audience, the toolkit offers useful information for dog/cat shelters worldwide. Learn what The HSUS is doing to address the COVID-19 crisis.

HSI had identified another dog meat farm in South Korea and was preparing to rescue the dogs there when the travel ban prevented our rescue team from returning to the country. In October, after a two-week quarantine, our team was finally able to remove the dogs from the farm and bring them to the U.S. and Canada.  Please donate to fund our efforts to help these dogs and all animals worldwide.

Our country directors around the world are asking government entities in charge of coordinating emergency and disaster relief efforts to ensure that critical animal needs, such as the care of animals in laboratories, pet shops, zoos and other settings, and the ability for animal care personnel to perform their duties, be addressed in emergency orders.

We are also recommending that governments recognize veterinary services as “essential services,” allowing veterinarians to stay open and tend to emergencies under strict protocols that follow the recommended social distancing. Some cities that are under complete lockdown have already adopted this measure.

Through our network of local organizations in countries around the world, we are providing accurate and up-to-date information, tips, and recommendations for governments, shelters, veterinarians, pet owners and the community at large. We seek to prevent the abandonment of pets by providing people the information they need to make accurate decisions regarding the care of their pets.

How can I be preparing to take care of my pet?

In the event of a crisis or disaster, we urge everyone to have a disaster preparedness plan in place. And, get the word out! Remind community members that having a plan for pets is critical; individuals who become sick or require hospitalization will need to have someone to take their animals. If you can, please endure the current situation from the safety of your own home.

Some steps to take include:

  • Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in the household becomes too ill to do so.
  • Have crates, food and extra supplies on hand that can last a minimum of two weeks.
  • Have your animal’s vaccine record on hand, and if your dog or cat needs special assistance such as taking medication, write it down.
  • Pets should have proper identification, such as a collar with ID tag and a phone number.

Can my pet get COVID-19?

People confirmed to have COVID-19 (or who are symptomatic or believe themselves to have been exposed) should avoid contact with other people as well as with pets, avoiding not only all contact but also sharing any food. If a sick person must care for animals during their illness, it’s important they practice good hygiene; they should wash their hands before and after any interactions with their pet. For more information, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

The CDC and the World Organisation for Animal Health have issued advisories saying there is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus to people. On a related note, in early April, the Bronx Zoo confirmed that several of its big cats became ill and one of its tigers tested positive for the virus, likely after being exposed to a zoo employee who was shedding the virus.

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Global Veterinary Community—an association representing more than 200,000 veterinarians—also states that the evidence strongly indicates that COVID-19 cannot be contracted from pets. The association does, however, caution that there is still much we don’t know and updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

Contact with pets is safe! Share on Facebook.

Dr. Gail Hansen, DVM, MPH of our affiliate the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said, “At this time, we do not have evidence that pets can get or spread COVID-19, although it is always good for people to practice careful handwashing after handling your pet and after picking up and disposing pet waste. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick, so you and your pet can get the best care.”

Read more on “A Humane World” blog

Watch a podcast about “Coronavirus and your pets” with HSUS Director of Shelter Outreach Kim Alboum.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has introduced a good deal of uncertainty into our lives, but being prepared can make a world of difference. Watch the video below to hear a veterinarian answer questions about pets and the coronavirus.

Source: Humane Society International / Global

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