Doctors across the United States are advising their patients to delay routine checkups and elective procedures so hospitals and clinics can test and treat anyone who may have COVID-19.
This request for patience and understanding also comes from veterinarians who treat pets of all kinds.
They are urging pet owners to forego regular checkups and minor surgeries so veterinary clinics can release their equipment for use in human hospitals.
Doctors say the same machines that keep animals healthy can be used on their owners.
“We shop at the same stores,” said Paul Lunn, dean of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “There is no difference in equipment.”
The school donated two ventilators and hundreds of hazmat suits and masks to hospitals in and around the state capital, Raleigh.
There are 30 accredited veterinary clinics across the country, and according to Lunn, there are more than 70 ventilators ready to go when needed.
The veterinary clinics also have exam rooms and operating rooms large enough to treat humans.
No direct transmission of pets
There is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats can catch COVID-19 or transmit it directly to humans.
A popular story that a 17-year-old dog died of the disease in Hong Kong is false. The animal succumbed to old age and other health problems.
But if a person infected with the coronavirus pets a dog or cat, someone else can pick up the virus from the animal’s fur.
Many animal shelters and adoption centers across the United States have closed to practice social distancing until the pandemic subsides.
Chris Bombaugh, president and CEO of the Montgomery County Humane Society in Montgomery County, Maryland, said it has suspended all dog and cat adoptions.
She says the animals sense that something is going on, but still get a lot of love and care from the staff.
For small animals lucky enough to have homes, Bombaugh recommends people take precautions to have someone look after their pets and have a 14-day supply of food and medicine on hand when the coronavirus strikes.