Are you infected by COVID-19 and thinking of abandoning your pet? Did your relative die from the virus and leave behind a pet?

PAWS appeals to the public

We continue to receive requests via email to take in the pets of people who are hospitalized or have died of COVID-19.

Please do not abandon your pets or the pets left behind by those who passed away. Orphaned companion animals may still be safely taken in by relatives and friends of the deceased.

Pets catching COVID-19 are isolated events

Infectious disease experts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and World Health Organization (WHO) confirm the lack of substantial evidence that pet dogs or cats can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus or be infected with COVID-19.

This is based on studies from May of 2020, the first five months of the pandemic when the number of people infected with COVID-19 across the globe had already exceeded five million. It was found that within the same five-month period, fewer than ten cases of companion animals were confirmed to have tested positive for the same disease. This establishes pet infections as highly isolated events.

Pet fur is not likely to transmit the virus

It is just as unlikely that one can contract COVID-19 by touching a dog or a cat who has been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person. A fact sheet released by the American Veterinary Medical Association clarifies that pet fur (being porous and fibrous) absorbs and traps the virus, making it harder to transmit through simple touch (AVMA, 2020: 2).

Smooth or non-porous surfaces, like door knobs and countertops, transmit viruses far better than porous materials like pet fur.

When taking in the pet of a person who has died of COVID, please do not try to disinfect the animal with household disinfectants and sprays. Bathing a dog or wiping a cat with a damp cloth or pet-safe wipe may already be sufficient.

Shelters are full and pounds are far from ideal

Our shelter is a haven for victims of animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect. Many are in distress, having been rescued from the streets, while for some are in our custody while criminal cases are being filed against their offenders.

Put simply, the PAWS shelter is already at full capacity and cannot take in additional animals–most especially, those who have already known the love and care of a forever home. This is true for shelters all over the Philippines.

While the city pound (your Local Government Unit’s animal control facility) may be called on to collect abandoned animals in houses, we do not recommend calling for their help. The misconception that pounds adopt or care for the animals for the rest of their short lives must be corrected. Even in pounds that claim to be ‘no-kill’, animals are likely to contract illnesses from incoming dogs and cats admitted daily. They are not given the care or access to a veterinarian that pet owners are able to provide.

Please honor a relative or a friend’s memory by offering to take in their orphaned pets or by taking steps to rehome them with another responsible pet owner. The person who has died from COVID-19 has loved the pet dearly and it could have provided him/her with comfort in their last moments on earth. Please do not abandon these animals.