Amid concerns and news about COVID-19, there also came news reports of a tiger in a New York zoo and three cats and two dogs in China, France and Belgium all testing positive for the virus after being exposed to it by humans.
Fortunately, dogs and pet owners are still loving and caring for their beloved furbabies, according to Mary Sundeen, president of Midcoast Humane in Brunswick and Edgecomb and Dr. Dean Domeyer of Boothbay Animal Hospital.
Domeyer said there have been many conversations among the veterinarians, technicians and staff about COVID-19.
“Would it be possible for someone to contract the virus after petting a dog whose owner had recently sneezed or coughed on it? Is there a remote chance? We don’t think so,” Domeyer said. “As long as you are practicing good hygiene - washing your hands, including after playing with your pets, the chances of catching the virus from your dog or cat is almost zero.”
The hospital has taken precautions to help avoid the risk of humans spreading the virus to one another: The waiting room is empty. Everyone wears a mask – except the patients! Pet owners call when they are in the parking lot for the appointment. A technician comes out to bring the pet patient in to see a doctor. After the exam, the doctor will discuss results. Then owners are transferred to one of the receptionists to pay by credit or debit card. And the technician brings the pet back out to the owner.
The American Veterinary Medical Association at avma.org recommends not letting your pets have close contact with people or other animals outside the home; keeping those indoor/outdoor cats inside; always keep your dog on a leash outside and stay at least 6 feet from other people and pets; don’t go to dog parks or other outdoor areas when there are a lot of others there.
If anything has been impacted by the pandemic, it is adoptions, Sundeen said.
Sundeen said the shelter and its store closed March 16 in response to Gov. Janet Mills’ instructions, and for the protection of the staff and the public. Sundeen was keeping tabs on humane organizations across the country for updates on all virus-related policies. “I read about humane societies resuming adoptions – because it’s certainly better for the animals to be in homes than in the shelter, and how they were doing it, and decided we would bring back adoptions, too,” Sundeen said.
The adoption process starts at https://midcoasthumane.org for photos of the animals available, adoption applications, and more. Meetings with the animal and the adoption both happen in the parking lot, with people using masks and social distancing.
Pet surrenders were a concern of Sundeen and others at Midcoast Humane, but Sundeen said they have found, “If anything, (the pandemic) created concern about passing the virus on to their pet. We monitor websites daily – the CDC, WHO, Daily Digest (Animal Welfare Digest), ASPCA … and have not seen documentation anywhere of a pet sparking a case of COVID-19,” Sundeen said. “Just put one foot, or one paw in front of the other. That’s all we can do.”