COVID-19 & Pets | BC SPCA
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COVID-19 & Pets

We know these are uncertain times, but we are committed to ensuring that abused, neglected and homeless animals continue to receive emergency treatment and care, and that pet guardians receive up-to-date information to keep themselves and their pets safe. Read news updates on BC SPCA and COVID-19.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the BC SPCA doing to help animals during the COVID-19 crisis?

The provincial government has announced that animal shelters and veterinarians are among those designated as essential services in British Columbia during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have restricted public access to our locations in order to safeguard public health, BC SPCA staff and volunteers remain on site, caring for animals and processing adoptions by appointment and the emergency surrender of animals. Our animal protection officers will continue to respond to complaints of animal cruelty and neglect, and to ensure that animals are removed from dangerous or violent situations. You can report animal cruelty by calling 1-855-622-7722.

Can I still adopt an animal?

Yes! Maintaining the flow of animals into new, loving homes is critical in order to free up space and resources to care for incoming animals. By adopting an animal you are helping us direct resources to the animals in most urgent need of care. In order to limit personal contact, we ask individuals to view our adoptable animals online and to fill out an online application form. A staff member will contact you to provide more information and to set up an appointment to meet the animal.

Can I foster an animal?

The BC SPCA is currently contacting existing volunteers for help with fostering. But we are assessing our needs daily and will reach out to the public if additional support is needed. Thank you!

Are shelters accepting surrendered animals?

Yes, we are accepting surrenders in locations where space and staffing capacity permit. Priority will be given to emergency situations. Please check with your local shelter more information.

I live alone. If I fall ill, will the SPCA be able to look after my animal?

The BC SPCA understands how concerning this is for pet guardians. We advise people be pro-active to reach out to family and friends who might be able to help out with your pets should you fall ill. We are currently developing emergency protocols and expanding our foster networks to ensure that we can help as many vulnerable pet guardians impacted by COVID-19 as possible within our capacity and resources. Please contact the BC SPCA Call Centre for more information 1-855-622-7722.

Can I get Coronavirus from my pet?

There are now a small number of cases and experimental studies indicating that some companion animals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Cats may (rarely) have symptoms, but no dogs have been reported to develop symptoms. Our knowledge base regarding COVID-19 in pets is rapidly evolving. However, at this time there is no evidence that pets pose a transmission risk to people. Out of an abundance of caution the CDC recommends that sick individuals limit their contact with pets the way they would with other people.

There have been news stories about a cat in Belgium who contracted COVID-19 from its owner. Is my pet in danger?

The veterinarians investigating this case will need to administer a blood test once the cat is out of quarantine to confirm this report, but the cat has since fully recovered. This appears to be an isolated situation – IDEXX Laboratories, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software, announced that the company has seen no positive results in pets to date of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory outbreak in humans. IDEXX evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for the COVID-19 virus.

Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to people.

Animal health organizations do recommend, as an extra precaution, that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with their pets until more information is known. If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would and continue to practice good hygiene before and after those interactions.

Can I still walk my dog?

Yes, but please practice social distancing and stay one to two metres away from other people. We also recommend keeping dogs leashed, so as to avoid unnecessary contact with other people. If you are actively sick with flu-like symptoms, someone else should care for your pet and you should not leave the house.

What if my animal gets sick and my animal hospital isn’t open?

Please call your veterinary office and listen to the outgoing messages. If they are not able to provide services, they should describe how to access other emergency veterinary services.

My veterinarian is unable to spay or neuter my pet due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. What do I need to know about living with an intact pet?

We are hopeful that BC veterinarians will be able to offer spay and neuter services again in the near future. Until then, please check out our resources below:

Living With an Intact Female Cat (PDF)
Living With an Intact Male Cat (PDF)
Living With an Intact Female Dog (PDF)
Living With an Intact Male Dog (PDF)
Living With an Intact Female Rabbit (PDF)
Living With an Intact Male Rabbit (PDF)

What can I do to prepare for my pet’s needs in an emergency?

The BC SPCA encourages all pet guardians to include their animals in any emergency planning. Identify a family member, friend or service who can care for your pet if you are unable. Ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and other health care, keep at least a two-week supply of food and medication on hand (with clear instructions about dosages and how to administer your pet’s medications), and make sure your pet is microchipped and registered in the BC Pet Registry. See our full checklist (PDF) to make sure your pet is ready for an emergency.

Is COVID-19 a risk to wildlife to Canada? What about the tiger in New York who became infected?

At this time there is no evidence that COVID-19 poses a risk to wildlife in Canada, nor that humans are at risk from wildlife. There is a report of several tigers and lions getting sick from COVID-19 at a zoo in New York, likely due to transmission from an infected zookeeper.

One tiger was tested, and tested positive. This is consistent with previous reports that domestic felids may be able to become naturally infected from humans (though this does not appear to happen easily) and that they can also become experimentally infected. The number of cases is very small and more research and clinical information are needed before we can understand COVID-19 in felids.

The consensus among experts continues to be that the primary COVID-19 transmission route is from human to human and that while humans may be able to pass the infection to animals, there is no evidence that animals can infect humans. 

I read an article saying the original link from bats to humans was dogs in China (released 4/14/20). Do I need to worry about contact with dogs? Should dogs be tested?

This Canadian study, by a single author, puts forth an interesting theory. It’s important to remember that a lot of studies will be coming out regarding animals and SARS-CoV-2, and some have not been peer-reviewed or replicated. Multiple infectious disease specialists in the US and Canada have weighed in that this theory may not withstand additional scientific scrutiny, and more study is needed.

There is no validated evidence that dogs pose a COVID-19 transmission risk to humans. No dogs have been reported to become sick with COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution the Centre for Disease Control recommends that sick individuals limit their contact with pets the way they would with other people. At this time, veterinary and public health experts do not recommend routine testing of companion animals for SARS-CoV-2.

How can I help animals during this crisis?

Even though much of our society seems to be on hold, animal cruelty and neglect is not. Your donations make a life-saving difference for animals cared for by the BC SPCA, and your generosity is needed more urgently than ever before. Thank you!

Your local SPCA may need supplies and other gifts-in-kind as well. Check with your local branch to find out how you can help. Items can be left outside the door for staff to pick up to limit personal contact. Needs can change rapidly, so sign up below to be included on email news updates.

Adopt! By adopting, you can help reduce the strain on shelters who may be overwhelmed with incoming animals. You will also be providing a loving home for a very deserving animal, and be gaining a new best friend!

Help animals in need


COVID-19 News Release

Emergency Checklist (PDF)

View adoptable animals

BC Pet Registry

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