With the latest emergence of Covid-19, many people are worried about the possibility of infecting, or even contracting the virus from, their pets.
India has seen a rise in the number of pet dogs being abandoned and left to fend for themselves as owners fear contracting the virus from them. China has seen people abandoning and killing pets and strays out of ignorance and fear. Some newspapers have even reported that Chinese officials in some regions are offering cash rewards for every stray dog killed.
The Animal Welfare Board of India issued a circular this month, in light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, requesting people not to abandon or inflict cruelty on animals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have stated that there is currently NO evidence that the virus can be contracted from pets. In addition, there have been NO reports of any animal falling sick due to Covid-19, or showing any symptoms related to the virus.
There was one case in Hong Kong where a dog tested “weakly positive” for Covid-19; however, it is believed that the dog contracted the virus from its infected owner. The dog later tested negative for the virus and there are no reports of the dog ever showing clinical signs of illness. After being in quarantine and then testing negative, the dog was allowed to return home. Sadly, the Pomeranian died three days later; however, the dog was 17 years old, and most likely died from either old age or stress-related factors after having been in quarantine.
After news of this incident, Hong Kong saw an increase in the number of dogs being abandoned, especially small dogs like Pomeranians and Shih-Tzus However, dogs have no role in the spread of the virus; the current outbreak is caused by human–human transmission only.
It is a fact of life that some diseases can pass from animals to humans, but also from humans to animals. Therefore, basic hygiene should always be practiced after handling any animals, irrespective of whether there is a coronavirus pandemic.
Please do not forget about your pets if you need to self-isolate; ensure that they have their needs met – food, drinking water, shelter, somewhere to exercise.
Please make sure that any friends and neighbours, who may not have access to all the information and evidence available, do not go down the route of irresponsibility and negligence when it comes to animals during this difficult time.