Shelter gets ‘extreme amount’ of calls asking about surrendering animals. Is COVID-19 a concern with pets?

ST. GEORGE — With people being told to stay home as much as possible in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are finding themselves in the company of their pets far more often. While our furry friends can be a welcome bright spot in times of uncertainty, some people have been asking their veterinarians and local shelters if they should worry about the virus spreading through their beloved animals.

Cookie the Dog, St. George, Utah, March 31, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The short answer: No.

St. George News contacted veterinary clinics across the St. George area and were told they’ve received numerous calls from pet owners asking about the possibility of their pets contracting and spreading COVID-19. The collective answer was that it isn’t a concern, with staff pointing to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the matter.

“At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States,” the CDC states on its website.

Coronavirus is a term used for a family of viruses that causes cold-like illnesses in humans, with the newest strain resulting in the COVID-19 disease. While strains of the virus that infect animals can jump to humans, these cases are rare, according to the CDC.

Additionally, some canine and feline strains of coronaviruses infect animals only and do not transfer to humans.

Stock image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

Kris Neal of the nonprofit One More Chance Cats animal rescue group, said she has also had many people call her wondering if they need to worry about their cats.

“They are two totally different coronaviruses,” Neal said of the coronavirus strain known to infect cats and the one that causes COVID-19.

Neal, who has been working with animals, particularly feral cats, for 25 years, described herself as being a part of the population the CDC is saying is more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“I wouldn’t have any animals that would put me or my husband at risk like that,” Neal said.

According to a video posted to Facebook last week by the Santa Clara-Ivins Animal Shelter, they have received “an extreme amount of calls” from people wondering if they needed to surrender their pets to the shelter due to fear of getting COVID-19 from them.

“You cannot contract COVID-19 from your animals,” Santa Clara-Ivins animal control manager Bailee Mabe said in the video. “There’s no reason whatsoever for you to surrender them or put them down.”

McDougal the Dog, St. George, Utah, March 31, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Currently, while there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be contracted from animals, the CDC still recommends practicing healthy habits around your pets and other animals, including the following:

  • Washing your hands after handling animals, their food, waste or supplies.
  • Practicing good pet hygiene and cleaning up after pets properly.
  • Taking pets to the veterinarian regularly and talking to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health. In response to COVID-19, many veterinary clinics are closed to walk-in visits and are seeing people and their pets by appointment only.

For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

If you are suspected to have COVID-19, or have tested positive for it, the CDC does recommend restricting contact with your pets as you would other people.

“Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy,” the CDC states.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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