Have contingency plan for your pets should coronavirus outbreak spread, Triangle officials say

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Animal care experts are encouraging pet owners to have a contingency plan should the coronavirus outbreak become widespread in the United States.

Bob Marotto, the director of Orange County Animal Services, said one of the things people need to plan for is a possible extended stay in the hospital.

“We like them to have a contingency plan,” Marotto said. “Can the pet go to a family or friend and can they care for it adequately for a period of time?”

He said people should know who will care for a pet, they should have enough pet food for an extended time away from home, and they should have any medicines the pets may need. It’s also important to have proper identification and a crate to transport the animal – especially if the pet has to be moved quickly in an emergency situation.

Marotto added that it’s also best for sick people to stay away from their pets, especially if they develop symptoms of coronavirus.

“You should not be snuggling with them, hugging them, kissing on them,” he said.

His worry isn’t necessarily about dogs and cats getting sick. Animals can transmit viral particles that could expose other people just like touching a contaminated surface.

“If someone I know happens to have sneezed on my dog, and then I happen to put my hands on my dog then I touch my hands to my face, my eyes, my mouth, my nose, it’s possible that I could contract the virus as a result of my contact with the dog,” he said.

Finally, Marotto said anyone who develops coronavirus symptoms and needs to be hospitalized should contact medical professionals before removing a pet from their house and sending it to anyone else’s home. He said precautions will need to be taken.

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