Statement regarding COVID-19-positive animals in the U.S.

New York, NY (April 29, 2020) – As we continue to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on animals and humans, we want to share an update on animals known to have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States. At this time, we know that the first case of an animal testing positive for the virus in the U.S. was Nadia, a tiger at the Bronx zoo in New York City, who came into contact with an asymptomatic zookeeper; several other big cats at the Bronx Zoo are also presumed to have the virus based on their symptoms. We are also aware of two domestic cats that tested positive for the virus, one of them after close contact with people with COVID-19. 

We are saddened to learn that these animals are sick, but we are heartened by the news that experts expect them to make a full recovery. We understand that this may cause concern over whether companion animals, particularly domesticated house cats and dogs, can transmit the virus to humans. We want to emphasize that these cases have not changed advice from experts. The American Veterinary Medicine Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and World Health Organization agree that there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pets play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

We at SPCA International urge pet owners not to abandon their animals. Always maintain basic hygiene when handling and caring for your pets. Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet, avoid kissing or sharing your food with your animals, and observe social distancing for yourself and for your pets on walks or in shared spaces. The CDC recommends keeping your cats indoors. If you are currently sick with COVID-19, restrict contact with your pets and other animals as you would around other people. SPCAI is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates as they become available.