PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- The coronavirus threat is affecting not only people, but animals too. Some animal shelters say that as fewer people come into the shelters to adopt, the number of homeless pets is expected to increase.
Lost Our Home Pet Rescue is issuing an urgent call for foster families to take in pets during this crisis. The shelter says it expects that as adoptions slow during this uncertain time, the intake of pets will increase, leading to overcrowding. "Our main focus at this point on is reducing the overall number of animals housed at the shelter," reads a statement from the organization.
A PET CAN'T GET or GIVE COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19. A pet cannot directly infect you, because they cannot contract the virus. Meantime, if YOU are sick with COVID-19 at home, limit contact with your pet and wash your hands before and after you touch them.
If you aren't in a position to foster an animal, you can help by making a financial donation to your local pet shelter, or drop off much-needed items, including bleach, hand sanitzer, canned dog food and canned cat food.
The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) says it's important that all pet owners include their pets in their emergency plans. This includes designating a friend or family member to care for your pets, researching temporary housing options for them, compiling all vet records, ensuring they are up-to-date on vaccines as well as listing all contact information and setting aside extra food and supplies for your pets. More information, as well as an emergency response checklist, can be found on the website at azhumane.org/disaster.
At this time, AHS is continuing normal operations, but has implemented heightened cleaning protocols and increased sanitation stations throughout all of the facilities.
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 100,000 people around the globe, killing more than 4,000. But it's not just humans impacted by the spread of the pandemic.
Globally, many pets are suffering in the midst of the virus. Many animals in Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, have died or are at risk of dying after residents evacuated their homes in the wake of the lockdown, animal advocates have said.
"We know that many dogs and cats have been left behind in apartments in Wuhan, in particular, when residents were evacuated, but also in other areas such as Beijing, Dalian, Xi'an," Wendy Higgins, director of international media at Humane Society International, told CNN.
"Estimates are impossible, but we do know that in Wuhan, for example, animal activists have assisted with animals in upwards of 1,000 apartments. So, the numbers nationwide will be significant."
The primary risk most animals face is an obvious one: starvation. Residents who were forced to leave their pets behind typically left enough food and water to last them for a few days, thinking they would be able to return soon, some animal advocates told CNN. But nearly a month after they evacuated, many residents have not returned home.