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People infected with COVID-19 could possibly pose a danger to pets

Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:16:43-04

San Diego, CA (KGTV)- Many questions were raised by pet owners about how to keep their animals healthy and safe after a tiger tested positive for COVID-19 at a Bronx zoo.

"The case in the Bronx with the tiger was one of the first cases where we've actually seen transmission from humans to a cat, granted a big cat," said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society.

Weitzman says it's not sick pets, but rather infected humans that could pose a danger.

"The most important thing that we want people to know is that their pets cannot give them coronavirus," he explained. "What we're really concerned about now is the very slim potential for us to give our own pets coronavirus."

The CDC is aware of the small number of reports of dogs and cats outside of the United States contracting the virus after close contact with humans who tested positive for COVID-19, however, to date there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to humans.

"Our testing diagnostic labs are doing random samples of our own dogs and cats from the shelters all throughout the country to test for coronavirus and up until now have not picked up a single positive case," said Weitzman.

He also said testing for the virus in animals differs from the much needed human tests and does not take away from that.

He said right now, the most important thing pet owners can do, is protect their animals.

"If you're presumptively sick with COVID, or tested positive, stay away from your pets. This is not the time to cuddle them or pet them," he said.

Weitzman also advises people to take precautionary measures when walking their pets.

"We should limit their exposure to other animals from other households, and to people from other households," he said. "If you do see anybody, they should not pet your dog when you're going on a walk."

He said if your pet may have been exposed to someone who appears sick, give the pet a bath.

"We initially thought the virus could live for an indefinite amount of time on the animal, from one day, to 72 hours, to a week," but he said information has changed. "We know now that the virus cannot live on animals for very long at all, probably less that an hour or two."

On April 8th at 11 AM, California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria will host a telephone town hall about how COVID-19 can impact pets.

Weitzman and Dr. Megan Gibbings with the West Coast Animal Hospital, along with Councilmember Chris Ward will join Gloria via telephone to answer questions from the public.

Questions can be submitted in advance to assemblymember.gloria@assembly.ca.gov by Tuesday at 5 PM.

People can dial-in at 11 AM Wednesday by calling (866) 434-5269.

Access code is 2276854.