Some argue our pets have never had it so good.
With the impact of the coronavirus forcing all but essential workers to abandon their offices and work from home, and many schools virtually in shut down, social media has been flooded with images of dogs and cats basking in the unexpected additional attention having their family members around them provides.
Yet for every group of strata residents drawing strength and comfort from having their pets close at hand, sadly there is an equal number considering abandoning them in the misguided notion that their animals may be involved in spreading this disease.
In fact the threat is so real, it has prompted the country’s largest animal welfare charity, the RSPCA, to speak out on the issue, urging panicked Australians against surrendering their animals or having them euthanised in their efforts to contain the disease.
The RSPCA says there is currently no evidence that animals (including companion animals, farm animals and wildlife) are involved in the spread of this virus in Australia.
“The worst outcome for animal welfare right now would be for our shelters to be inundated by unwanted animals, at a time when we’re likely to be short-staffed and when adoptions are slowing,” it says.
Instead, the animal welfare group has advised strata residents to continue to enjoy the pets while following social distancing rules.
The RSPCA advise there are a number of ways this can be done:
- Enjoy dog walks but keep at least 1.5 metres away from others
- Be hygienic and thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your pets (especially rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles)
- Avoid being kissed, licked or sharing food with your pet
- Ensure you have supplies of pet food and medication in the event the state or federal government impose further restrictions and you are required to stay at home
When it comes to self-isolation it is better to be over than under prepared, the RSPCA says.
“If you’re diagnosed with coronavirus, you will be required to self-isolate. So it’s best to consider your pet’s welfare now, and how you will ensure their needs are met while maintaining your quarantine.”
To help prepare for this situation, the RSPCA recommends keeping two weeks’ worth of supplies for each pet – including food and any medications – ensuring of course not to hoard more than you need as this only creates shortages for others.
Ideally, you’ll be able to keep your pets with you but if you have dogs or other animals that need exercising outdoors, don’t leave your own property. You may have to arrange for someone to help with their care until you can return to normal.
The RSPCA advises that if you’re concerned about your pet’s health while you are self-isolating, don’t break your quarantine – instead ring your vet to ask for advice.
“They will be able to work with you to ensure your pet receives the care they need while keeping themselves and their staff safe from COVID-19 infection.
Lastly, the RSPCA asks that pet owners take every measure possible to maintain care of their animals.
“A little preparation should help ensure you can continue to care for your pets during this crisis.”