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Pets don’t spread COVID-19, people shouldn’t spread fear

With all the information about COVID-19 that’s out there, what can you believe?

Regarding cats and dogs, it’s pretty simple.

If you’re healthy, keep petting and hugging them as you — hopefully — already have.

There’s been so much emphasis, and rightfully so, on people having to socially distance themselves from other humans to avoid getting and spreading the coronavirus.

What if people have dogs, cats and other pets?

The American Veterinary Medical Association has reassured people that infectious disease experts and many domestic and international animal health organizations said there is no evidence to indicate pets can become ill with the coronavirus, nor do they spread it to other animals — including people.

The AVMA said if people aren’t ill with COVID-19, they can interact with their pets as they normally would. They can take them for walks, feed them and play with them.

It does suggest, though, that people should wash their hands before and after interacting with their pets, keep them well-groomed, and clean their food and water bowls, toys and bedding material. Of course, pet owners should practice this type of hygiene anyway.

Still, to be safe, the AVMA recommends that people with COVID-19 limit contact with their animals until more is known about the virus. If possible, have a member of the household take care of pet-related tasks.

If that isn’t possible, pet owners should wear face masks, wash hands before and after contact, and refrain from sharing food.

Now the hard part: Try not to kiss or hug them. Remember, though, it’s likely just a temporary situation.

What people should keep in mind is that pets can remain as members of the family. They don’t have to be relinquished to a shelter or, worse, let out on the street so they have to fend for themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted it doesn’t know the exact course of the current COVID-19 outbreak, and it doesn’t have evidence that companion animals can spread the disease.

It also has no evidence suggesting that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading the coronavirus in the United States.

We strongly believe animals should not be surrendered to a shelter because of the fear of COVID-19. They deserve a place alongside their humans.

The takeaway for COVID-19, whether we’re talking about people or bets, is prevention. The best way to avoid getting ill is to avoid exposure to the virus and take preventive actions, such as thoroughly washing hands.

We’re all in this together, and that includes pets.

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