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COVID-19 and pets

We have added the following information to address the  questions we are receiving.  Please note, we are not health experts; we also recommend checking with the CDC and WHO websites for the most updated information.


What should I do now if I am a pet owner at high risk for the virus?

1. In an abundance of caution, wash your hands as often as possible, including after handling your pets.

2. We strongly urge all pet owners, but especially those who are elderly  owners or who suffer from chronic health issues, to set up contingency plans for their pets urgently.   Is there a family member or trusted friend who could care for your pet should you fall ill?  Please speak to them NOW and have plans in place so that your pet can be cared for immediately should you become ill.    

3. For elderly, high risk or even single pet owners, we  recommend putting together written information about your pet, what food  she eats, what vet she sees, plus a listing of any medications or medical issues she has.  Add the name and phone number of the person who has agreed to be  caretaker.   Leave this in an envelope in a conspicuous place in your home, writing something like "Pet information in case of emergency" on the outside of the envelope. 

Can pets spread the Corona Virus?

According to the World Health Organization, there is still no evidence that animals can infect humans with the virus.  The WHO states, "currently, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats have infected humans with Covid-19.”

However, pets can be a 'fomite,' meaning they can temporarily be contaminated with the virus germs if they are sneezed or coughed on (similar to if a handkerchief was sneezed or coughed upon).

We strongly recommend increased hand washing at this time, including after handling your pets. 

Can pets get the Corona Virus?

We don't know, but currently it is believed that even if they do, they likely will not exhibit any symptoms.  According to experts, there is still no evidence that pets can serve as route for spreading COVID-19.

Some dogs have been quarantined after testing positive for low levels of infection.  In all cases, it is believed that they got the virus from an infected human family member.  There is still no evidence that infected pets can give the virus to a human. 

What if I am sick with COVID-19 and have pets?

According to the CDC:  those who are ill with the virus should limit their exposure to their pets, refraining from kissing them and close snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.  Wash hands before and after handling.   If it is all possible for another family member to care for the pet, this is strongly recommended.   If there is no one else to care for the pet, wearing a mask is recommended.

According to The World Health Organization:  pet owners infected or susceptible of being infected with the coronavirus should avoid close contact with their pets and to have another member of the household care for the animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible. More information regarding pet health amid the epidemic can be found on their website.

What if I have a respiratory illness and need to surrender my pet to SAS?

We are currently handling all surrenders (and all adoptions) by appointment only.  

If you are looking to surrender a pet, you should email info@scituateanimalshelter or call 781-544-4533.

In order to protect our community and our ability to continue to care for the region's pets, if you need to surrender a pet to SAS due to respiratory illness, we ask that someone who is not ill handles the surrender.  If you are suffering from a respiratory ailment or COVID-19 and are the only person who can surrender the pet, we will make arrangements to safely get the pet from you. 

Can pets be tested for COVID-19?

Some veterinary schools and hospitals have purchased the necessary supplies to test animals for the virus.   We are not aware of which area hospitals have this capability at this time, but will update this page as we learn more.