The Hong Kong government has urged people not to abandon their pets and to stop kissing them after a second dog repeatedly tested positive for coronavirus.
A German shepherd living in the Pok Fu Lam area on Hong Kong Island was sent for quarantine along with another mixed-breed dog from the same residence on Thursday after their owner was confirmed as being infected, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement.
No positive result was obtained from the mixed-breed dog, and “neither dog has shown any signs of disease,” the department said, adding it will continue to monitor both dogs and conduct repeated tests on the animals.
The animal-welfare authority reminded pet owners to use good hygiene practices and urged them to avoid kissing their pets but stressed that there is currently no evidence that pets can be a source of the virus or that they can get sick from it.
“Under no circumstances should [owners] abandon their pets,” the AFCD said.
The new case comes after a 17-year-old Pomeranian, which had tested “weak positive” during repeated tests for the virus, died two days after it was released from quarantine virus-free. The AFCD said the dog’s owner wasn’t willing to allow an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Some animal-welfare experts have suggested that the Pomeranian’s death could have been caused by the stress of being quarantined and separated from its owner.
Both the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health and the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no evidence that companion animals such as cats and dogs can spread the virus. “Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” the animal-health organization said.
“Our pets can be a source of comfort for us, and not another source of concern, during this evolving Covid-19 environment,” said Dr. Jim Blacka, a veterinarian with IDEXX’s Companion Animal Commercial Business. “Data from IDEXX shows no cases to date of the novel coronavirus in thousands of dog and cat samples tested, which is good news for pets and the people who care for them,” he added.
The AFCD said it “strongly advises” that mammalian pet animals including dogs and cats from households with persons infected with Covid-19 or those who have had close contacted with others infected with the virus, should be quarantined in government facilities.