Pet owners urged to follow CDC social distancing guidelines with pets and have emergency plan in place

Chicago--The Chicagoland Lifesaving Coalition, a group of key public and private animal welfare organizations, has released a joint statement regarding pets and the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to humans after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the first confirmed cases of two pet cats that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

The cats live in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. A veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed signs of a mild respiratory ailment. No individuals in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home. Samples from the second cat were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The owner of the cat tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing signs. Another cat in the household has shown no signs of illness.

“While the evidence of this virus in these few animals is alarming, the CDC does not recommend the routine testing of pets at this time,” says Raissa Allaire, Executive Director of Tree House Humane Society. “There is no evidence that dogs and cats can transmit the virus to humans.”

Continuing to follow the CDC’s guidelines, the Coalition strongly recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people and other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals and people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

“Given the impact of COVID-19, it is important for all pet owners to have a plan to continue to care for their pets should they or another member of their household become infected with the virus,” says Tracy Elliott, President and CEO of The Anti-Cruelty Society. “For more information about caring for pets, we recommend reaching out to a local animal welfare organization or shelter and follow them on social media for the most up to date information on caring for animals in this time of crisis.”

The Coalition members provide critical animal welfare services throughout the Chicago metropolitan area and consists of the following members: Animal Care League (Oak Park), Evanston Animal Shelter, Hinsdale Humane Society, One Tail at a Time (Chicago), Safe Humane (Chicago), South Suburban Humane Society (Homewood), The Anti-Cruelty Society (Chicago), and Tree House Humane Society (Chicago).