Homes wanted: Pets in need of urgent placement as shelters close amid coronavirus

(NEW YORK) —  Animal shelters across the country are encouraging people to adopt and foster pets as they hunker down at home.

As social distancing becomes the norm and millions of Americans stay put in an effort to blunt the spread of COVID-19, North Shore Animal League America explains now is the perfect time to adopt a furry friend.

“Right now people have the time to give pets the love and attention they deserve,” said Diane Johnson, shelter operations vice president at North Shore Animal League America. “Being home gives people the chance to bond with their animal and normally we don’t always have the time. If you’re thinking about adopting, I urge you to consider doing so soon.”

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee adopted her dog Brando just last week from North Shore Animal League America.

“The outbreak had a lot to do with it,” Zee said. “He’s a great dog. There’s a million reasons why you should adopt, but number one is your saving a life and they’re saving yours.”

The push for adoptions comes as many shelters share concerns of a rise in capacity as visitations from potential adopters drop off.

“We’re seeing adopters not coming in as much right now, but shelters are still obligated to take in animals from the city and those who wish to surrender their animals,” said Hannah Stember, the public relations manager of Best Friends Animal Society. “Of course we encourage people to adopt and we appreciate those who have, but if you’re unable to commit, fostering a pet at this time will likely alleviate stress on your local shelter.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Veterinary Medical Association and Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) all agree pets are not at risk of spreading COVID-19.

Although a dog reportedly tested weakly positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong, experts confirm dogs and cats cannot pass the pathogen on to humans.

There is currently “no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they can become sick,” an AFCD spokesman said in a statement.

Above all, Stember urges pet owners to make sure their animals have everything they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We recommend having a one-month supply of food, water and medications for your pet during this time of self-isolation,” said Stember.

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