Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

Friends of Humane Society International


We here at Friends of HSI, like you, are impacted by the changes happening around the world. We’re thinking about the people out there who are anxious, homebound or sick—and all of your animals too. Friends of HSI is working harder than ever to continue to provide services where we can, including making sure that you have good and practical information about how this virus may impact you and your family, including its animal members. We’ll be updating this page as frequently as warranted. Please stay safe!

 

What is Friends of HSI doing to address this crisis?

Friends of HSI is working with authorities at all levels to ensure that the welfare of animals is being included in emergency planning and essential services directives. Friends of HSI is also working to directly assist communities and their animals impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

Friends of HSI has launched a program that aims to provide essential services to people in need, to help them care for animals during this difficult time—including animal food, emergency sheltering, and critical animal transport.

The first phase of our program will start in Quebec to provide assistance to individuals and organizations who are in urgent need of help in caring for their animals because of this crisis. Please contact us if you or someone you know needs assistance – with the resources we have we will do our best to respond.

Quebec / Montreal:

Email: qcresponse@hsi.org

Phone: 514-395-2914, ext 207

 

Should I have a preparedness plan for my pet(s)?

In the event of a crisis or disaster, we urge everyone to have a preparedness plan in place. And, get the word out! Remind community members that having a plan for pets is critical; individuals who become sick or require hospitalization will need to have someone to take their animals. If you can, please endure the current situation from the safety of your own home.

Some steps to take include:

  • Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in the household becomes too ill to care for pets.
  • Have crates, food and extra supplies on hand for movement and relocation of pets if necessary.
  • Keep all animal vaccines up to date and have copies of those records available in the event that boarding becomes necessary.
  • Ensure that all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions. It’s a good idea to include the prescription from your veterinarian with the medications and your pet’s to-go bag.
  • Pets should have proper identification: a collar with ID tag and a microchip with current, up-to date contact information.

We understand not everyone has a personal support system or the financial means to meet the above recommendations. When experiencing difficulty in creating a preparedness response, please reach out to local shelters and animal service agencies to find out what support is available. During this crisis, there may be options of temporary housing for pets, donated supplies, subsidized veterinary services and more available to help people care for and stay together with their pets.

 

Can my pet get COVID-19?

People confirmed to have COVID-19 (or who are symptomatic or believe themselves to have been exposed) should avoid contact with other people as well as with pets, avoiding not only all contact but also sharing any food. If a sick person must care for animals during their illness, it’s important they practice good hygiene; they should wash their hands before and after any interactions with their pet. For more information, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

The CDC and the World Organisation for Animal Health have issued advisories saying there is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus to people. On a related note, in early April, the Bronx Zoo confirmed that several of its big cats became ill and one of its tigers tested positive for the virus, likely after being exposed to a zoo employee who was shedding the virus.

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Global Veterinary Community—an association representing more than 200,000 veterinarians—also states that the evidence strongly indicates that COVID-19 cannot be contracted from pets. The association does, however, caution that there is still much we don’t know and updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

Dr. Gail Hansen, DVM, MPH of our affiliate, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said, “At this time there is nothing that shows pets can spread COVID-19 and there’s no reason to think pets might be a source of infection. It is always good for people to practice careful hand washing after handling a pet and after picking up and disposing pet waste. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick, so you and your pet can get the best care. Our pets provide a very important and positive role in our lives.”

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has introduced a good deal of uncertainty into our lives, but being prepared can make a world of difference. Watch this video to hear a veterinarian answer questions about pets and the coronavirus.

 

How can I keep my home clean AND safe for my pets?

Some cleaners that help prevent COVID-19 aren’t safe for your pets.

  • Keep pets out of rooms where you’re using cleaners that contain bleach, alcohol and other powerful chemicals.
  • Don’t leave cleaners out where your pets could stick their paws into them.
  • Follow the product instructions—some cleaners need to sit for a bit to be effective, but surfaces can then be rinsed to avoid burning tender paws.
  • If your pet needs a bath, only use products intended for bathing pets. Other cleaners can hurt them.

 

What can I do to help animals and shelters during this crisis?

ADOPT OR FOSTER

Now is a great time to adopt a pet to reduce the potential strain on shelters and to offer to foster in case shelters start receiving an increase in requests for foster care of pets for seriously ill or hospitalized people. Please reach out to shelters and rescue groups in your area for more information.

Fosters can also be lifesavers for pets who can’t adapt to shelter life, those who need to be nursed back to health and orphaned animals who need someone to step in for their mom (or whose needs are beyond what busy shelter staff can often provide).

This uncertain and stressful time is also a wonderful opportunity to unify behind a common love of animals. COVID-19 does not discriminate; people from all backgrounds and communities will be impacted. A deep connection to animals transcends socio-economic, racial, ethnic and geographic boundaries and honouring that bond with compassion, not judgement, is a very simple yet impactful way to contribute positively in your community during this crisis.

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