As the coronavirus outbreak continues worldwide, it’s important to keep alert—not just about the disease itself, but of harmful misinformation.
It’s natural to be concerned about the virus, but while most people have simply adopted common sense precautions (washing hands regularly, avoiding work when sick) others are panicking, fueled by false rumors about the coronavirus—and their fear could have deadly consequences.
There are now reports from vets that people have taken their dogs to be euthanized, fearing that their pets will contract the coronavirus and pass it onto them… even though there is no risk of contracting the disease from pets.
According to 10 Daily, a Sydney veterinary clinic said three people have called them asking to put their pets down over coronavirus concerns.
“They’re scared their dog could catch coronavirus and bring it home and be a risk to their family,” Dr. Sam Kovac told 10 Daily.
These customers seem to be overreacting and misunderstanding reports about the virus: “I had one client say to me ‘dogs are in lock down in China, should I be putting Cheto into quarantine at home?'”
In reality, we shouldn’t be worried about our dogs at all, let alone resorting to have them put to sleep: studies have shown that not only can we not get the coronavirus from our pets, they aren’t even at risk of getting sick from it.
“There is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick,” said a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, according to AP.
That was the conclusion following a study on a quarantined Pomeranian in Hong Kong, who was found to have a low-level virus contracted from his owner, who had coronavirus. However, the dog did not test positive for COVID-19.
The good news is that it doesn’t seem like any vet has gone through with putting these pets down, but it is a scary indication of how coronavirus panic could hurt innocent animals.
“I am worried about people going elsewhere to euthanize pets because there are unscrupulous people out there that would profit from putting animals down,” Dr. Kovac told 10 Daily.
He says that even if a dog did contract the coronavirus, he’d take proper precautions but wouldn’t euthanize it—the dog will most likely survive the disease anyway.
“If you’d ask the same clients if they’d euthanize their grandma, they’d say no,” Dr. Kovac said. Why have a pet and treat it differently to how you’d treat another family member?”
It isn’t clear how long the coronavirus outbreak will continue to affect the world, but in the meantime it is highly important that we all keep an eye out for dangerous false information.
“I ask the public to be aware of the facts about the novel coronavirus and take a moment to investigate unverified claims before they share them with others,” NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant said.
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