COVID-19: What We Know

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

I hope you are staying safe and healthy while we navigate the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Here at SPCA International, we are in constant communication with officials, shelter partners and rescue organizations. They are keeping us abreast of the latest developments in Asia, Europe, Latin America and here in North America.  

People all over the world are stepping up to make sure animals stay safe during this crisis. In many countries, people are restricted from moving between their homes and workplaces, so shelter staff and volunteers are living at shelters to care for animals. However, animals continue to be at risk, mostly because of food shortages.

Over the past few weeks, many shelters have contacted us for help. They are scattered across the globe, but their stories are eerily similar. Stores are closing, food shipments are delayed, people don’t know if they’ll be allowed to go out to buy more food when they need it. Everyone is hustling to make sure they can feed the animals in their care during this crisis.  

Unfortunately, animals not in the care of animal welfare groups are at extremely high risk. We have reports from our partners that dogs in China are being killed indiscriminately and pets are being abandoned on the streets of Italy due to unfounded fears. Pets are being left behind when their owners pass away unexpectedly. Animal welfare groups are doing their best to respond to each of these emergency situations and save as many animals as possible while facing an uncertain future themselves.

As this situation unfolds, we’re continuing to monitor animal welfare across the globe and step in where we can help. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have been able to earmark $100,000 for animal welfare groups affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

We know the global COVID-19 crisis is far from over, and there are many unknowns, so we remain committed to helping animal welfare groups meet new and unique challenges as they arise.

Please, stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.


If you’d like to help us continue to provide vital support to shelters and animals around the world in this most challenging time : 

Military Rescues Affected by COVID-19

Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide has been rescuing dogs and cats befriended by U.S. military members serving overseas since 2008. We have navigated some incredibly difficult situations in unstable regions.

We’ve had to find alternate routes out of countries at war and move animals through dangerous checkpoints. However, we’ve never before been confronted with something like the current COVID-19 crisis.

As borders close and international flights are canceled, our team is bringing dogs and cats to the U.S. as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we know some will be stuck for weeks or months while we wait for travel to resume.

These animals are caught in limbo. As they waited for routine travel clearances, the situation changed drastically. Now, we don’t know when they’ll be able to travel.

Currently, 19 cats and 11 dogs are on our waiting list to travel to the U.S. Caring for them during this crisis is already proving challenging.

Nearly every location where we are caring for dogs and cats is experiencing difficulties. Here are just a few examples:

  • In Iraq, our staff had to secure a special permit for a veterinarian to travel across the city to provide vaccines to the dogs in our care.
  • In Poland, a carefully orchestrated rescue flight was canceled just two days before it was set to depart.
  • In Jordan, two cats are stuck in a boarding facility where a staff member is now living on site to care for them during the shutdown.
  • In The Philippines, several dogs and cats have been stuck since early February.

We’ll continue to provide these animals love and care while their soldiers anxiously wait for travel to resume.

Here are a few of the sweethearts whose travel plans have been put on standby:

If you’d like to help us continue to provide vital support to shelters and animals around the world in this most challenging time:

COVID-19 Safety

For up-to-date information on how to keep yourself and family safe please refer to the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control.

Please refer to the EPA list of approved cleaning products to ensure that your cleaning products can kill COVID-19 and properly disinfect surfaces. Remember to read the label and follow the approved contact time for your products.

Check out SPCA International’s disaster kit essentials to help prepare your pets for emergency situations.

Veterinary professionals should refer to the American Veterinary Medical Association for guidance during this time.

Use Petfinder.com to find a shelter in your area that you can support through adoption, fostering or food donations.

Remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Here are some songs that will help you time yourself.


If you would like to help us continue to provide vital support to shelters and animals around the world in this most challenging time: 

COVID-19 Crisis Felt Across the Globe

The speed and severity of the COVID-19 crisis has come as a shock to many. As schools and businesses close, daily life is affected everywhere, including animal shelters. Here at SPCA International, we continue to receive requests for help from shelter and rescue partners across the globe. Their need is critical and urgent.

Thanks to many generous SPCA International supporters, we have been able to earmark $100,000 for grants specifically for the COVID-19 crisis response. We have already authorized grants to the following organizations:

  • Plushbear (Baicheng, China) – This shelter makes their own dog kibble, so funds will help them buy the ingredients they need to feed the dogs in their care.
  • K9 Global Rescue (Jeonju, South Korea) – This organization rescues dogs from the dog meat trade and finds them adoptive homes in the U.S. They can’t transport the dogs right now, so funds will help shelter, feed and provide veterinary care until the dogs can travel to their new homes.
  • SPCA Italia (Ardea, Italy) – This rescue organization has a special permit from the Italian police to rescue the many dogs and cats that are being abandoned on the streets amid the COVID-19 crisis. Funds will help them continue rescuing and caring for animals.
  • Animal House Jamaica (Lydford, Jamaica) – This shelter relies on food donations from the surrounding hotels to feed the 200 dogs in their care. With hotel operations halted, they now have to buy kibble. Funds will support the cost of buying food to last for two months.
  • Rifugio Jill Phipps (Asti, Italy) – This refuge organization shelters animals that have been saved from slaughter, including farm animals. They are having difficulty accessing food during the COVID-19 crisis, so funds will help them act quickly to buy food when it is available.
  • Unidad Proteccion Animal in the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – This organization is facing food shortages and store closures. Funds will help them purchase enough food to last until normal supply chains are functioning again.
  • Vucjak Shelter (Kragujevac, Serbia) – This shelter is faced with a food shortage as EU borders close. Funds will help them buy enough food to survive this crisis.

We’ll be sending many more grants to organizations like these in the coming weeks.  If you know of a shelter affected by the COVID-19 crisis, please have them contact us.

As we all feel the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to remember to keep the furry members of our families and communities safe as well. If you are looking for ways to help, here are just a few:

  • Contact your local animal shelter to ask what they need. Many are seeking extra food donations or short-term foster care for animals.
  • Make a donation to your local animal shelter or to SPCA International and we’ll get it to a shelter in need.
  • Keep yourself and your family safe by following local recommendations. By staying healthy, you’ll be able to care for your family members and pets.

Educate yourself and verify information sources. Remember, according to the World Health Organization dogs and cats can’t spread COVID-19 to humans.


If you would like to help us continue to provide vital support to shelters and animals around the world in this most challenging time :