Veterinary medicine is an “essential business” during this time of panic, quarantine, stress, and uncertainty. Due to COVID-19, we now live in a world that seems to have completely flipped upside down. We are living in an episode of The Twilight Zone. But one thing has helped me and my staff through these unimaginable weeks. We have the love and bond of our pets and our pet patients! Yes, we work through our days with new protocols in place. And the feelings of stress and uncertainty are still all around us. But the adorable dogs and cats who walk through our doors always place huge smiles on our faces and make us laugh! And just for a moment, we forget all the bad that is happening. So as a veterinarian, do I recommend fostering pets or bringing a new one into your family during this time?
I absolutely do!
It’s a Different World
I wake up early every day and head to my animal hospital to get ready for a day of treating and caring for pets. It has been my lifelong work and dedication for the last 20 years. But things are different right now. Overnight, it seems everything we knew, understood and believed in, even the routine veterinary services we provide have changed in the blink of an eye. Everything changing so suddenly is jarring and frightening.
Clients no longer walk into my animal hospital. They no longer get to interact with our friendly staff. Pets are picked up curbside by our nurses and brought into the hospital to be evaluated and treated. We all walk around in masks and gloves. And everything is bleached and sanitized every 30 minutes.
That trusted one-on-one communication with clients, discussing medical problems and treatment options for their beloved fur babies, has been downgraded to a phone call rather than a warm, passionate discussion in our examination room. My pride and dedication to providing a veterinary hospital that prioritizes and embodies a compassionate, family-run, “hometown” feel has taken a back seat due to COVID-19.
The Silver Lining…
But we still get to love on your pets. We still get to have fun, meaningful interactions with them and with our own pets at home. And I, for one, want everyone to feel that unconditional love and effervescent joy that pets bring to your home! It’s especially important to lean on the positive parts of life when so much is unknown and often negative.
So fostering pets or bringing home a new furry family member is the perfect way to add a little joy to your life right now!
But is COVID-19 a Risk for Pets?
Times are troubling right now, for sure. But scientists and doctors are constantly researching and studying data and information regarding COVID-19. A big cat in the Bronx Zoo did test positive for COVID-19 and exhibited symptoms of the disease. It certainly raises concerns regarding the role other animal species may have in the spread of this novel coronavirus.
The most recent data suggests that the possibility of domestic animals infecting humans with the disease is low or unlikely. It is more likely humans who are carriers or sick with COVID-19 can transmit viral particles to domestic species, such as dogs and cats. Although these species are not the ideal host for the virus, there are a few cases of cats becoming ill – a case in Belgium as well as the few tigers and lions in the Bronx Zoo.
Data suggests cats are actually better hosts for COVID-19 than dogs. Their cells are more likely to become infected with these viral particles, replicate, and cause illness. Currently, there are no known cases of dogs becoming ill from COVID-19.
Let me stress, dogs can still carry the viral particles on their fur and in their bodies, which can possibly contaminate other surfaces or people.
Remember, research is ongoing, and all precautions and actions you take with preventing disease should be applied to your pets.
My Verdict on Rescuing or Fostering Pets During Quarantine
The animal-human bond is strong. A bond with pets increases happiness, mental stability, and security in homes. We need to promote happiness, love, and bonding during these trying times. Caring for and loving pets is a wonderful way to promote happiness and overall health and wellbeing.
I am a huge advocate of fostering or rescuing a pet during this time.
It is absolutely NOT the time to panic and relinquish your pets to a shelter.
I cannot stress enough that the evidence does NOT suggest people become infected with COVID-19 from pets. Other species of animals are not proving to be a large epidemiological factor in the maintenance or spread of this disease. But they are providing us kindness, caring, bonding, and love.
Final Thoughts on Fostering Pets During COVID-19
As we all adjust to this new normal, even if temporary, it is easy to become consumed in the sadness, heartache, devastation, and fear of this novel coronavirus.
But our pets do not understand or know the implications of the world news. They carry on as they always would with their love, dedication, loyalty, and joy of life. They are free of the panic of this pandemic. Pets are a wonderful reminder of what our normal was and what it will be again in the future. They are an escape, for even just a moment. We are free to laugh and engage with them as we always have.
One day, our lives and my cute little animal hospital will return to normal. My mom (one of my amazing receptionists) will come around from the front desk to greet our pet parents with a hug and ask about their lives. My nurses will continue to joyfully give our patients treats. And I will continue to roll around and play on the floor with them during examinations, while I create a treatment plan with their grateful owners. It will happen again, and I look forward to that day!
In the meantime, I am grateful to still see my adorable, innocent, sweet pet patients. It is an escape for myself and my staff from the realities of what is going on. It’s a reminder of who we are in our core and how special the human-pet bond truly is.
Welcoming a new furry friend to your home could be the absolute BEST thing for you and your family!