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?

Due to limited staffing and space, we can only accept animals for surrender in emergency cases, until further notice. Please contact your local shelter to make an appointment if you are in an emergency situation and cannot keep an animal, even temporarily.

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. Stay tuned for updates.

Can I get Coronavirus from my pet?

At this time there is no evidence that companion animals can spread, COVID-19 to humans. However, out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that infected individuals limit their contact with pets as well as with other individuals. Basic hygiene practices are encouraged for all individuals handling pets – with thorough hand washing before and after direct contact with your pets, their supplies and food.

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.

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.

Can I get COVID-19 from wildlife?

There is no known COVID-19 risk associated with wildlife in Canada. However, wild animals can cause injury or other disease, and we do not recommend handling wild animals or their bodies except by trained professionals with appropriate protective equipment.

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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