Coronavirus

Can your dog or cat get coronavirus? South Florida pet shelters are taking precautions

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Can your pet be infected with the novel coronavirus that is shutting down South Florida?

While the virus is believed to have emerged from an animal in Wuhan, China, and there is one case of a dog in Hong Kong who appeared to have a “low-level” infection before testing negative for COVID-19. But health officials don’t think pets are at risk of carrying or transmitting the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say there “have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19” and that “there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” As a precaution, the CDC says pet owners who become ill should avoid contact with their pets or other animals.

Broward County’s Animal Care and Adoption Center says pet owners who become sick should not snuggle or kiss their pets and should not bring their animals to the shelter.

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Pet owners who are ill should also wash their hands before feeding their pets (if you don’t do this already), not allow their pet to be on the couch or bed with them and make sure their pet does not come into contact with other people or animals, the shelter says.

Pet shelters across South Florida are also ramping up their efforts to minimize the curb of exposure to the novel coronavirus. Here’s what your local shelter is doing:

Humane Society of Greater Miami

Customers and volunteers at the Humane Society of Greater Miami will now have additional restrictions in response to growing worries of the community spread of COVID-19.

Anyone who has recently traveled abroad, returned from a cruise ship or is showing signs of illness is asked to refrain from the shelter in North Miami Beach and the two clinic locations, in order to limit contact with staff and pets, according to the humane society. Only certain volunteers are allowed to continue being part of the program.

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All neuter and spay appointments will go on as scheduled, and any changes will be communicated on the Humane Society’s social media pages. Outreach events and appearances have been canceled effective immediately and no new invitations will be accepted for the time being.

Anyone with additional questions is asked to reach out to Jossie Aguirre at Jossie@humanesocietymiami.org.

Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption & Protection Center

Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption and Protection Center remains open and is still encouraging animal lovers to visit the shelter. But it’s asking all visitors, volunteers and staff to frequently wash their hands and use the hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility.

The shelter has suspended all orientation and training sessions until further notice for new volunteers, “Kitten Cuddlers” and its foster program, according to Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 Service Updates webpage.

All scheduled and walk-in spay/neuter surgeries for the general public have also been suspended. The walk-in clinic at the Pet Adoption and Protection Center is still open for vaccinations and microchipping services.

What about events?

The shelter is still hosting off-site adoption events but has had to postpone several events because of the county’s initiative to scale back on large social gatherings, as is recommended by the CDC, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Some of the postponed activities include two dog adoption events, “Kitten Cuddler” orientations and orientation sessions for the center’s foster program, according to Miami-Dade County’s Animal Services online calendar.

If you’re interested in attending one of the shelter’s off-site adoption events, visit www.miamidade.gov/global/calendar/animals.page for up-to-date event information.

Broward County Animal Care & Adoption Center

Broward County’s Animal Care and Adoption Center says it hasn’t changed any of its requirements or procedures but is asking pet owners to remember their furry family members when creating a “preparedness” plan.

What should your plan include?

Create a list of trusted family members, neighbors or friends who can take care of your pet if you or someone in your immediate family falls sick or is hospitalized.

Check if your pets have all the necessary vaccines.

Buy extra supplies of food, water, medicine, puppy pads or litter.

For more information, visit www.broward.org/coronavirus.

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