Mumbai. Confusion over billboard advertisements across Mumbai featuring a picture of a dog and bat and advising people to “avoid unprotected contact with live wild and farm animals” in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has resulted in hundreds of calls to PETA India from people who fear for the welfare of their companion animals and for that of community dogs and cats. PETA India has issued an urgent advisory clarifying that dogs and cats are not a risk and that any cruelty toward them must be prevented.
The group shared scientific expert statements in support of the claim, including the ones below.
World Health Organization: “There is no evidence that companion animals … such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.”
World Organisation for Animal Health: “The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: “To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”
American Veterinary Medical Association: “At this time, experts have not expressed concern about transmission to or from animals. Multiple international health organizations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19.”
Dr. Will Sander, head of the joint veterinary-master’s in public health degree program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine: “At this time, people should be minimally concerned about this coronavirus affecting their pets. The virus seems well-adapted to spread between people and, therefore, unlikely to jump to dogs or cats.”
“Just as the common cold doesn’t spread between companion animals and humans, many other viral infections in humans don’t find a host in dogs and cats at home or on the streets, as they have different cell receptors, thereby preventing human-borne viruses from causing an infection in them,” says PETA India CEO and veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate. “During this time of crisis caused by the coronavirus, it is important that we as a society make all efforts to protect our companion and community animals from any potential abuse resulting from the spread of myths.”
Here are some tips on keeping companion and community animals safe:
Never put any face masks on animals, as they can cause breathing difficulties.
Do not restrict the movement or activities of companion and community animals or do anything else that would compromise their overall welfare.
Best practices include making sure companion and community animals in your area are up to date on vaccinations, they receive annual veterinary check-ups, and preventive measures are taken to protect them from heartworm, fleas, and ticks.
People who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with animals and should have another member of their household care for animals so as not to get the virus on their fur.
To help an animal who’s in immediate physical danger or in urgent need of veterinary care, please call PETA India’s emergency number: (0) 98201 22602.
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has now confirmed that the dog in Hong Kong who belonged to a coronavirus patient and tested “weak positive” may have been carrying the virus in the mouth and nose from contact with an infected guardian but showed no clinical signs of illness, demonstrating that dogs and cats are not natural hosts for COVID-19 and do not spread the virus to humans.