A veterinary clinic in Sydney has found itself flooded with calls from pet owners asking for their pets to be euthanized.
Sam Kovac of Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in St. Peters, Sydney, said their clinic received calls within the past couple of weeks from customers asking about the possibility of euthanizing their pets over fears that the animals could infect them with the coronavirus.
“They’re scared their dog could catch coronavirus and bring it home and be a risk to their family,” Kovac said in an interview with website 10Daily.
“I had one client say to me’ dogs are in lockdown in China, should I be putting Cheto into quarantine at home?’,” Kovac said.
According to Kovac, he has refused all requests.
Kovac said he has taken to explaining to clients that the common coronavirus seen in dogs is not the same as the deadly new virus affecting humans, adding in his interview, that he was “disturbed” by the fact that pet owners would seek to euthanize their dogs over a disease.
“If you’d ask the same clients if they’d euthanize their grandma, they’d say no. Why have a pet and treat it differently to how you’d treat another family member?” he added.
Kovac, however, expressed concern over the possibility that other veterinarians may comply with panicked pet owners’ requests.
“I am worried about people going elsewhere to euthanize pets because there are unscrupulous people out there that would profit from putting animals down.”
According to Kovac, he believes the panic and confusion stemmed from a recent outbreak of canine coronavirus in Victoria. This outbreak, Kovac said, led to greyhounds being quarantined for up to two weeks before participating in races.
Canine coronavirus primarily causes contagious gastroenteritis, which can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Kovac maintains however, that this type of coronavirus cannot infect humans.
In what would seem like a twist of fate; however, it seems dogs are more at risk for contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus from their owners, based on an incident reported in Hong Kong.
According to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, they have received confirmation that a dog indeed, tested “weak positive” for the new coronavirus.
“Experts unanimously agreed the results suggested the dog had ‘a low-level of infection’ and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” the department said in a statement.
The dog’s owner was infected with COVID-19. The dog, however, did not manifest any symptoms. In the original report, medical experts, including those from the World Health Organization (WHO), had been investigating the case to determine if the dog contracted the disease from its owner, or if it merely picked up the virus from another source, such as a contaminated surface.
“It is positive to tests and has been infected, so it is now quarantined in a center by the department. Further tests will be conducted and it will not be released until the tests return negative results,” Hong Kong health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said during a press briefing on the epidemic, Thursday. (Related: China to implement PERMANENT ban on wildlife trade in the wake of coronavirus outbreak)
The Hong Kong health department later released a statement, stating that there is still no evidence that pet animals could be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they could fall ill from it.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) verified the report but said there was no evidence that pets played a role in the spread of the virus, a stance supported by the WHO.
“With regard to the dog in Hong Kong which tested weak positive to Covid-19 virus, these findings suggest that it is likely that the dog is infected with the virus. So far it is not showing relevant clinical signs,” the OIE said.
“Currently, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” they added.
In addition, the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) in Hong Kong said in a Facebook post that being infected was not the same as being infectious, and that infected animals are not capable of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus. The SPCA is the largest independent animal welfare charity group in the city.
“While the information tells us that the dog has a low-level of infection members of the public should note that the dog is showing no symptoms whatsoever. We have been informed the dog is currently very healthy and doing well at the quarantine center,” the group said.
As of this writing, the COVID-19 coronavirus has infected 98,395 people and claimed 3,385 around the world.
For more related news about the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19), visit Pandemic.news.