Last updated April 16, 2021
- What has the Humane Society of the United States been doing to address the COVID-19 crisis?
- What has been done at the state level?
- Should I have a preparedness plan for my pet(s)?
- Can my pet get COVID-19?
- How can I keep my home clean and safe for my pets?
- What can I do to help animals and shelters during this crisis?
- Where can I get help if I am experiencing financial hardship and need help covering costs for pet care?
- How can future pandemics like COVID-19 be prevented?
- Additional resources
We launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund to support animal shelters, rescue groups and other organizations responding to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the goal of keeping people and their pets together during this crisis. Contributions to the fund were used to provide veterinary care, pet food, horse feed and animal care supplies, as well as other costs related to caring for animals during the outbreak. View our interactive map to see where the emergency grants were dispersed across the country.
We also helped launch #SpayTogether, a stimulus fund that provides surgery support grants, on-ground assistance, training in high-quality/high-volume spay and neuter procedures and discounted veterinary supplies and services to shelters and clinics affected by COVID-19.
Early in the outbreak, we assembled a toolkit for animal shelters to help them respond to the needs of the communities that they serve and were in close contact with our Shelter and Rescue Partners to share information.
Our Pets for Life program, which supports pet owners in underserved areas, has been delivering additional supplies to senior and immobile clients and is modifying spay/neuter and veterinary appointments to maintain those valuable services within guidelines. Client visits by Pets for Life teams are shifting to phone outreach and delivery of food and medications to avoid close contact for at-risk clients.
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association worked with our state directors to ensure that veterinary services and other animal care needs are identified as essential businesses. HSVMA is also helping veterinarians adapt to telemedicine and ensuring that providers are able to offer those services.
The staff and volunteers at our animal care centers remain committed to ensuring their animal residents receive the highest quality care. Our sanctuaries already practice excellent standards of disease prevention and are prepared for necessary changes in supply chains and staffing.
Pet owners hit hardest by COVID-19 will soon be facing immense financial barriers to veterinary access and other animal care services. They need your help.
Our state directors all across the country asked emergency managers and other officials to ensure that critical animal needs, such as the care of animals in various settings and the ability for animal care personnel to perform their duties, were addressed in emergency orders.
Many worked with local pet food banks by encouraging donations, helping with delivery and posting resources online. State Facebook pages kept up-to-date about the need for fosters and pet/human COVID-19 facts, plus what people can do to help shelters and each other with pet needs. Find your state and follow along on social media! State Directors also responded to inquiries from shelters and ACOs regarding management during this crisis and reached out to shelters to assess what the most urgent needs are.
There is still much that is unknown about the virus that causes COVID-19, but we do know that it can spread from people to animals in some situations. A relatively small number of pets worldwide, including fewer than 130 cats and dogs in the United States, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, nearly all after close contact with people with COVID-19.
Infected pets might get sick or they might not have any symptoms. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered. Serious illness in pets appears to be extremely rare. If you think your pet is sick with the virus or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian.
Pets should be treated just as any other human family members. If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected, restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people. Ask another member of your household to care for your pets while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food or sleeping in the same bed. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 to people. Based on the information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it is always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
Some cleaners that help prevent COVID-19 aren’t safe for your pets.
Keep pets out of rooms where you’re using cleaners that contain bleach, alcohol and other powerful chemicals.
Don’t leave cleaners out where your pets could stick their paws into them.
Follow the product instructions—some cleaners need to sit for a bit to be effective, but surfaces can then be rinsed to avoid burning tender paws.
If your pet needs a bath, only use products intended for bathing pets. Other cleaners can hurt them.
ADOPT OR FOSTER
During the COVID-19 crisis, so many people stepped up to adopt and foster a homeless pet, helping to ease the workload of shelter and rescue staff and volunteers and providing comfort to pets. If you’re interested in adopting or fostering a pet, please reach out to shelters and rescue groups in your area for more information. We anticipate many pet owners will remain in crisis long-term. Consider helping a neighbor who is searching for affordable, pet-friendly housing by fostering their pet and donating pet food to your local animal shelter, so that struggling pet owners have access to the food and supplies their pet needs. Check in with your local animal shelter and ask how you can become involved in supporting the community.
- AVMA: Overview of COVID-19 transmission and infection in humans
- CDC: Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit
- CDC: COVID-19 and Animals
- CDC: How to Stay Healthy around Pets
- CDC: If You Have Pets (COVID-19)
- HSUS: Make a disaster plan for your pets
- HumanePro: Coronavirus (COVID-19) shelter kit
- HumanePro: Eviction response toolkit