The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not reported any incidents of pets becoming sick with the coronavirus. Madeline Bernstein, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA), tells Inside the Issues it’s OK to continue to adopt animals without fear of contracting the virus

She says what they do know is pets can act as a surface and therefore it’s possible for droplets of the virus to remain on the animal or in their nasal passage as a way to transfer the disease. She recommends using the proposed hygiene techniques with your animals while the virus continues to spread.

“So be careful not to hug and kiss and cough all over your cat if you're feeling sick or your dog because the virus will stay on the surface,” she said. “If you come in contact with this strange dog while you're out on a walk with your dog and your dog is inhaling poop, keep him away from that, if that's the kind of thing that your dog likes to do, because the virus can be shed in poop.”

Bernstein said spcaLA has protocols in place to disinfect the surface of the animal and they are using protective gear to ensure they don’t transfer the disease to another dog or a person.

The number of pet adoptions has increased during the pandemic and Bernstein said they have adjusted their adoption process, which is now appointment only, to keep everyone safe while allowing for animals to find a forever home. 

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“We're not accepting casual visitors. What you're not going to be able to do is show up at one of our shelters and wander around and see what's happening and who you like,” she said. “A lot of the paperwork and any exchange of funds is being done online or over the telephone.”

She said there is a no-contact transfer of the pet when being adopted. If a person or family is unsure of which pet to adopt, adoption counselors are there to help identify which pet might fit in with the person’s needs.

“Out of all the adoptions that we've had, we've only had two returns. One was a puppy, and of course puppies are a lot of work, and that person realized [that] immediately,” she said.

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Bernstein stressed that while right now lots of people are home and able to adjust to taking care of a new pet, it’s important to remember this is not a short-term decision.

“The decision you're making to adopt is for the lifetime of the pet, not the extension of a school year, not the extension of a vacation,” she said. “So if you make the decision that you want to adopt a pet and understand the commitment to adopt that pet for the life of the pet, and you do some research and you talk to your family and everyone's on board, then you can pretty much withstand most of these changes.”

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