Coronavirus: 'Scared' pet owners ask vets to euthanize their animals fearing they'll get the infection from them
Pet owners in Australia are asking vets to euthanize their animals as panic grips the country over the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a span of two weeks, the Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in St Peters, Sydney, has received at least three calls from pet owners to have their animals put down in the wake of the deadly virus.
According to a report by 10 Daily, many fear that if their pets contract the disease it pass on to them and their families.
This even as several agencies have made it clear that there was no reason to panic as the disease would not spread from pet animals to humans.
Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has said that pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners.
Similarly, Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham said, "There is no evidence that the human novel coronavirus can infect dogs and it would be incredible for a virus to make so many species jumps in such a short space of time." "The last thing we need to do is create mass hysteria about the possibility of dogs being infected, and therefore potentially transmitting this virus when there is absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever."
Dr Sam Kovac, who works at Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in St Peters, Sydney, said despite the requests he has refused to euthanize anyone's animal.
"If you'd ask the same clients if they'd euthanize their grandma, they'd say no. Why have a pet and treat it differently to how you'd treat another family member?" he said. "If my dog Clara had been infected with [COVID-19], I would isolate her, I would wear protective equipment while interacting with her and feeding her and isolate her for a few weeks."
Furthermore, the common coronavirus that usually infects dogs is not the same as the one causing a global epidemic, Dr Kovac added.
However, he raised concerns that some "unscrupulous" people may profit from the hysteria as owners could find other means to euthanize their pets. Dr Kovac also clarified that people shouldn't think twice before taking their dogs to the park, saying they are likely to recover if struck by the virus.
"I had one client say to me 'dogs are in lockdown in China, should I be putting Cheto into quarantine at home?'" he said.
Last month, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant issued a statement reassuring dog lovers there was no risk.
That said, the coronavirus that affects dogs is only a highly infectious intestinal disease which could cause discomfort for a few days with symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.
This kind of mass hysteria came after greyhounds in Victoria were isolated amid the coronavirus outbreak. The dogs are currently being held in quarantine for two weeks before they can nominate for a race.