Eau Claire (WQOW) - While some cases of COVID-19 have been found in cats and dogs across the country, the Eau Claire County Humane Association is telling pet owners not to be alarmed.
The shelter's operations manager, Karen Rabideaux, said according to multiple studies, animals are unable to pass COVID-19 along to people, but people can pass it on to animals.
However, she added that animals that do catch the virus have so far shown very mild symptoms and many have recovered.
Rabideaux said pet owners should be prepared to take some precautions if they themselves get sick, but you don't need to surrender animals if COVID-19 reaches your household.
"Treat your pet like you would any other family member by distancing yourself, quarantining yourself," Rabideaux said. "Still take care of your pet. We're hoping people won't abandon them, because it is a family member. We want them to remain in the home with the people that they love."
While Rabideaux expressed concern about people abandoning pets, she's also seen more people adopting pets during the pandemic.
She added that while adopting pets during this time can help folks keep busy and boost spirits, it is important to make sure the animal you're taking in comes from somewhere trustworthy.
If anyone is looking to get a dog from a breeder instead of adopting from a shelter, Rabideaux encouraged them to do thorough research to make sure the animal is coming from a clean and trustworthy environment because there's a chance it could catch deadly illnesses such as parvo from an unsafe breeder or a person taking advantage of an uptick in interest due to the pandemic.
"If they choose not to see you on site, that might not be the best place to get an animal, because you want to see where they've been living, and if the parents are both on site," she said.
Rabideaux added potential pet owners also should check if breeders have a well-designed website or social media page, and if puppies from them are alert, energetic and a healthy weight.
She suggested using the Indianhead Kennel Club as a resource when looking into reputable breeders.