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American Humane Urges Calm, Compassionate Care Towards Pets Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, March 4, 2020 — As theories regarding the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus spread, American Humane, the country’s oldest animal welfare organization, seeks to calm pet-owners fears as many theories regarding companion animals are false. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals are a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.

“Around the globe, we are seeing confusion and rash action taken in response to the coronavirus,” said American Humane president & CEO. Dr. Robin Ganzert. “Right now, we need people to treat their pets with kindness and compassion. They are not a threat to you or your family.”

Many of these misguided fears grew out of report that a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 last week but was not infected with the virus. While the virus is staying in the respiratory system of the dog, it is not infected. This is a case of human-to-animal transmission and means that dogs can carry low levels of the virus but don’t become sick. There’s no evidence that your cats and dogs are more likely to spread the coronavirus than your cell phone or keys. Apart from staying in the respiratory system, the disease can reside on the skin like it can on any inanimate object. Researchers do not yet know how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects.

In China, families are abandoning pets at alarming numbers and there are some reports that cats and dogs are being put down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And there are many instances of animals being brutally killed. This reckless, inhumane behavior represents a compounding of tragedy. Animals should not lose their lives because their owners are uninformed or misinformed.

American Humane is urging pet owners to maintain good hygiene practices and under no circumstances should abandon their pets. Follow the following steps to prepare:

  • Stock up on necessities in case you need to stay home for 2-3 weeks, including pet food and medications.
  • Wash your hands after playing with your cat or dog.
  • Don’t abandon your companion animals.
  • Stay up to date on the latest advisories and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization. Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals, and our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and people. For more information or to support our work, please visit

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