4 Positive Pet Stories from Around the World

They're comforting doctors, learning how to detect the coronavirus—this is how animals are making the world a better place.

Posted in , Mar 30, 2020

A cat and a dog

While the statistics and reports surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic can be frightening, animals from around the world are giving us some positive news to share. It’s comforting to know our pets can’t catch the virus and we can still enjoy their company as usual (if we’re not sick ourselves). Plus, seeing feel-good photos and videos across social media of people working from home with a cat on their keyboard or a dog snuggled next to them lifts our spirits. Here’s more pet news that is giving us hope during a dark time and showing the goodness in people’s hearts.

Dogs are learning how to detect coronavirus.

The U.K. charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) is collaborating with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to train canines to sniff out Covid-19. “Dogs searching for Covid-19 would be trained in the same way as those dogs the charity has already trained to detect diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and bacterial infections—by sniffing samples in the charity’s training room and indicating when they have found it,” MDD said in a statement on their website.

The statement went on to say the dogs, who can also detect temperature changes in a person’s skin, are being trained with the goal of being ready in six weeks. “The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic and tell us whether they need to be tested. This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed,” explained the organization's CEO and co-founder Dr. Claire Guest. If successful, these dogs could be used at airports, especially at the end of the crisis, added Professor Steve Lindsay of Durham University. “This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease, after we have brought the present epidemic under control.”

Pet adoptions have skyrocketed.

While you might think adding a pet to your lifestyle during such a stressful time wouldn’t be the best idea, Americans are finding it helpful to care for an animal. Rescues, shelters and humane societies are being flooded with adoption and foster applications from folks wanting the comfort and responsibility of a furry friend while they’re home. These dogs and cats are a reason for people to get out of bed and start the day, get some fresh air for a few minutes and focus on loving another being.

Some shelters and adoption organizations are closed, but staff members continue to work remotely to find animals temporary or forever homes. Katy Hansen, director of marketing and communications at Animal Care Centers of NYC, told The Washington Post she thought they’d get 50 responses after they put out a request for additional fosters on March 13. “We got 2,000 people who filled out the application,” she said. If you’re interested in adopting or fostering during this time, visit your local shelter’s website to view available animals.

Boarding facilities are helping out first responders by caring for their pets.

As healthcare workers log long shifts and spend most of their time at the hospital, they need help caring for their animal companions. Luckily, organizations like Destination Pet are offering free boarding and daycare at their locations across the country for first responders, hospital staff Army Corps of Engineers and mobilized National Guard. “In this time of need, we can help the two-legged heroes by caring for their four-legged best friends. We are honored to serve and support those who are on the front lines, working tirelessly every day,” said Brett Erreca, Vice President of Operations.

Other businesses are following suit, like Barks and Rec in Columbus, Ohio. When owner Leanna Rocheleau received so many boarding cancellations and heard from clients who were worried about caring for their pets while working in hospitals, she decided to help. First responders and hospital staff can drop off their pets for free boarding and care. “If everybody can find one small way to help, then we’d all be a little better for it,” she told ABC 6 news.

Service dog in training is comforting healthcare heroes.

One-year-old Labrador, Wynn, is on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus in Denver, comforting staff at Rose Medical Center. The service dog in training comes in with emergency physician Susan Ryan and welcomes cuddles when healthcare workers need a break. Wynn hangs out in the social workers office, where meditation music is playing to create a calm setting. Of course, everyone washes their hands before and after coming in contact with the sweet pup, and her collar and leash are regularly cleaned.

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