Animal activists plead with owners not to abandon their pets

Fear of Covid-19 transmission may lead to pet owners dumping their pets.

PETALING JAYA: During these difficult times, it is hard to stay alone at home without the constant companionship of your loyal pets.

After all, they are not distressed by all that is happening beyond their little world, and their world does revolve around you.

However, recent misinformation and misunderstandings have led to pets being unjustly left to fend for themselves in shelters or on the streets.

Social media messages have been circulating claiming that animals can carry Covid-19, leading to irresponsible people dumping their pets in fear of infection.

This hysteria is nonsensical and is causing undeserved suffering for many innocent animals.

While there have been cases of animals being infected with Covid-19, the numbers are so small that you can literally count them with your fingers.

In addition, there is no evidence that a human can catch Covid-19 from an animal, and so far, there have been no infection sources reported to be animals.

The main means of transmission for Covid-19 remains human-to-human contact and surface transmission.

There is little evidence for Covid-19 transmission from animals to humans.

Assuming you have kept your pet with you throughout your isolation period, there is likely zero chance that your pet will be infected at any point.

This is doubly so if you and the rest of your pets’ caretakers are healthy.

However, a few Malaysians are reacting to the Covid-19 crisis in the worst way possible by abandoning their pets.

When contacted by FMT, PAWS Shelter Manager Edward Lim says that people should simply maintain basic hygiene when dealing with their pets.

“Don’t panic. There’s no need to abandon your pets. After you play with your cat or your dog, wash your hands properly.”

He iterated that there is currently no scientific evidence that pets can spread Covid-19 to their owners.

The general misunderstanding about how Covid-19 interacts with animals has led to people misreading recent comments by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Clarifying the issue, the Department of Veterinary Services issued a statement yesterday explaining that while the incidence of Covid-19 in humans is very high, in the case of animals, it was isolated because animals could not contract the virus naturally.

Adding to this, Chan Kah Yein, founder of AnimalCare Society, said that reports of very few, isolated cases indicate that humans can infect animals with Covid-19, but not vice versa.

As always, practise basic hygiene when handling your pets.

Pet owners who do not understand this may end up abandoning their pets in a panic.

“Animal welfare organisations the world over are keeping a close watch on this phenomenon and disseminating accurate information to pet owners and animal feeders so that they are kept well-informed, practise hygienic and safety protocols and at the same time, continue looking after the animals under their care.

Dr Lucy Campos, animal rescuer, has also been receiving an increasing number of reports regarding pets being abandoned by their owners.

Shelters are receiving lorries loaded with animals and as a result, are operating at full capacity with limited resources.

Thus, she said, animal shelters need support and assistance from members of the public now more than ever to continue keeping these shelters up and running.

“They’ve got this notion that it is being spread by pets. It is a very wrong notion,” she said. “It’s a very sad situation to see.”