People Are Asking Vets to Euthanise Their Dogs Due To Fears Of Coronavirus
In Hong Kong, a pet dog belonging to a coronavirus patient tested “weak positive” to the disease, with health officials confirming the animal has a “low-level infection” from what is likely the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission. Now, in Sydney, Australia, panicked dog owners have been approaching vets and asking for their dogs to be euthanised, over coronavirus fears that they might be at risk of catching the virus via animal-to-human transmission. Dr Sam Kovac, owner of The Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in Australia says it has received three calls in just two weeks from anxious clients who fear their animals could infect them with the potentially deadly virus and want them put to be put to sleep.
But the vet has refused these requests, as there is no evidence that dogs can transmit Covid-19 to humans. Pointing out it is unlikely his clients would consider euthanising an elderly relative, he said: “The last thing we need to do is create mass hysteria about the possibility of dogs being infected, and therefore potentially transmitting this virus when there is absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever. If you’d ask the same clients if they’d euthanise their grandma, they’d say no. Why have a pet and treat it differently to how you’d treat another family member?”
It is believed that the global epidemic, which started in Wuhan, China, originated in bats but was transferred to humans from pangolins, a mammal covered in distinctive scales. Coronaviruses are classified as zoonotic diseases, meaning they can spread from people to animals. However, in the case of this particular strain of coronavirus (officially named 2019-nCoV), bats are the original hosts. Dr Kovac raised fears that pets could be killed unnecessarily by ‘unscrupulous’ people happy to profit from the panic. Paranoid owners abandon their cats and dogs for fear of catching coronavirus—and animal shelters struggle to cope with the influx.
Can pets spread the Covid-19 to humans?
It bears repeating here that a number of medical experts and authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), have stressed “there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.” We know that coronaviruses can live on surfaces and objects, although researchers don’t know exactly how long this virus can linger for. In the same way, coronavirus could be present on the surface of a dog or cat, even if the dog or cat hasn’t actually contracted the virus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.