Guidelines and Resources For Pet Owners
April 13, 2020
Before we get into Service Dog Handlers and Coronavirus, let’s clear up a few things about how COVID-19 is different from the flu. The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease new, people do not have immunity to it and a functional vaccine could be several months or more away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, COVID-19 is thought to be deadlier than most strains of the flu.
First of all, there are many different types of coronavirus. The term “corona” refers to the crown shape the virus has when observed under a microscope. COVID-19 is the name for the specific type of coronavirus that is in the news today. Different coronaviruses can infect different species of animals and birds. There is a canine coronavirus ( technically called CCoV) which is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. Canine coronavirus is usually short-lived, but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort. It is not transferable to humans.The coronavirus in the news is a new strain and is not thought to infect dogs. Currently there is no evidence that pets, working dogs or service dogs can transfer COVID-19, however, details are still emerging about how COVID-19 is transmitted.
No studies have been conducted on pets and questions remain about how long the virus is viable for on a dog’s fur, paws or saliva. Sheila McClelland, the founder of Hong Kong-based Lifelong Animal Protection Charity (LAP) wrote a letter to Hong Kong authorities which states, “Present evidence suggests that dogs are no more of a risk of spreading (coronavirus) than inanimate objects such as door handles.”
We already know that coronaviruses can live on surfaces and objects. Researchers are currently studying how long the virus can exist on surfaces — but the most recent information is that it can last for up to three days. When a dog in Hong Kong tested positive, pets quickly became part of the coronavirus conversation. The case raised the alarming possibility that pets could become part of the transmission chain for COVID-19. However, many questions remain about the details of how best to respond, especially for Service Dog Handlers and Coronavirus.
The Center For Disease Control is continually updating guidelines on this rapidly evolving situation. Please refer to the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Public Health Professionals Managing People With COVID-19 in Home Care and Isolation Who Have Pets or Other Animals Your state public health veterinarian should be contacted by public health professionals, animal health professionals or veterinarians that have discovered a household animal with a new, concerning illness and that resides with a person with COVID-19. Some jurisdictions do not have state public health veterinarians, or geographic, resource, or time limitations may prevent public health veterinarian from managing a situation involving household animals.Treat pets as you would other household members and limit contact as much as possible including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food Service animals should be permitted to remain with their handlers.If possible, a household member should be designated to care for pets in the home.If the individual in home care and isolation must care for pet(s), including service animals, they should ensure they wash their hands before and after caring for pets and wear a facemask while interacting with pets, until they are medically cleared to return to normal activities.Please review our AP’s Hospital Access Rights for Service Dog Teams.