Coronavirus and pets: Fredericksburg fire chief addresses concerns as clear-the-shelter event underway

Fredericksburg fire chief Mike Jones

With fewer volunteers on hand to take care of animals during the spread of the coronavirus, an effort is underway to clear the shelters. 

Between Thursday, March 26 and Wednesday, April 1, the BISSELL Pet Foundation will help foot the bill to lower adoption fees for their shelter animals at the Fredericksburg SPCA, located at 10819 Courthouse Road.

With this reduced adoption fee, people can now adopt a pet for $25 by first, viewing adoptable animals on the shelter’s website, and then fill out an online application.

The last step is to schedule a one-on-one in-person appointment, as people across the U.S. have been asked to limit the number of people who gather in one place to reduce the spread of the virus. 

In addition to reducing adoption fees, BPF will also be reducing fees for foster-to-adopt cases. 

“Many shelters have already been forced to eliminate all foot traffic in their facilities, so overcrowding is an issue. Organizations are scrambling to find fosters to take pets in during this time and they need our help,” said BPF Founder Cathy Bissell in a press release.

This reduced adoption fee is part of a three-week-long Emergency adoption event called “Empty the Shelters.” As of now, BPF has over thirty participating shelters and within the first six days, has sponsored 792 adoptions and has 66 foster families.

As a result of the coronavirus, the BPF has had to cancel many scheduled fundraisers and events and is working to find different solutions to assist their partners. They are encouraging people to adopt and to remember that the CDC has reported no evidence of the virus being able to transmit to and from animals. 

The clear-the-shelter effort comes as Fredericksburg fire chief Mike Jones today briefed city residents on the concerns of coronavirus and pets. Here’s what said during a question and answer session: 

Many of you have pets and concerns about the COVID-19 virus and it’s spread. 

Q: What happens if I’m diagnosed with COVID-19, what happens to my pet? 

A: Identify another person in the household that may be able to care for the pet. Have a kit ready with at least two weeks worth of food and any medications that your pet might need. 

Q: “If I’m ill with COVID-19 what precautions should I take for caring for my pet?” 

A: Out of an abundance of caution, practice social distancing and consider isolating from your pet if at all possible.  While there are no reports of pets becoming sick from COVID-19, limiting contact is the best choice at this point. 

Q: “Can COVID-19 infect my pets?” 

A: Currently there is no evidence that pets become sick or that dogs and cats transmit to people. 

Q: “Can pets transmit the COVID-19 virus the way other contaminated objects the way contaminated objects or surfaces might?” 

A: Most pet hair is porous and fibrous, which is very unlikely that you will get COVID-19 from petting or playing with your pet. However, pets can spread other diseases, so it is always a good idea to practice good handwashing techniques with your pet, as well as making sure they are groomed properly,  and keep their food and water areas cleaned.

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