OPINION: Protect dogs from COVID-19

Man’s best friend is more susceptible to the disease than we might have thought



Dogs detecting coronavirus puts them at risk, and we have to consider whether that’s acceptable.

Dogs are now being used at Helsinki Airport to detect COVID-19 on arriving passengers, but they might be more at risk than we think.

Elian Peltier, a writer for The New York Times, wrote that the dogs were part of a program designed to detect infections from incoming passengers.

Buddy, a household German shepherd from New York, began to struggle to breathe before his seventh birthday, according to a National Geographic article.

Natasha Daly, a writer for National Geographic, wrote that Buddy became the first dog to test positive in the US. Buddy died on July 11.

Public records show Buddy is not the only dog in the United States that has been reportedly infected with SARS-CoV-2. More than 22 dogs have been infected by the virus.

“It was at the third veterinary clinic, Bay Street Animal Hospital, where Mahoney was finally able to have Buddy tested for COVID-19. That was on May 15, one month after Buddy’s breathing trouble began,” Daly wrote.

Buddy’s owners, Allison and Robert Mahoney, made the decision to euthanize Buddy, according to the article. Robert chose to have Buddy cremated. Robert asked New York City veterinary health officials if they would like to test Buddy more; however, health officials did not respond.

“It happened and it’s there. It’s a problem, and for [officials] not wanting to investigate [SARS-CoV-2] … it’s wrong of them,” said Dania Partida Hernandez, sophomore public relations and human development double major.

Although not much is known about how the virus affects dogs, there is indeed more to learn in order to protect them as well as other people.

“I think dogs should be protected from [SARS-CoV-2],” said Maria Maninang, junior apparel, merchandising, design and textiles major. “Especially if they are showing symptoms.”

Maninang said there needs to be more treatment for dogs. Saving human lives is not an animal’s main purpose. Dogs are a common household pet. They are surrounded by children and bring joy to the community. However, we simply do not know how the virus could possibly transmit to human beings.

Dogs have been known to save the lives of humans. However, in a more serious situation where a disease like COVID-19 comes into play, is this the path we as people would like to take?

“Not a lot of people have knowledge that humans can pass [SARS-CoV-2] on to dogs,” Partida Hernandez said. “If you are letting dogs sniff people, they’re basically inhaling the germs of the virus.”

Partida Hernandez said using dogs to sniff COVID-19 is similar to serving the coronavirus to the dogs.

We have the technology to track down COVID-19. Why would we want to risk more lives? Scientists in the U.S. may be interested to see if dogs can detect COVID-19, yet they ignore seeing dogs as living beings who are at risk of being infected by the virus themselves.

“Common safety is a goal,” Maninang said.

Let us make that goal a reality by keeping dogs safe from the coronavirus. Let us continue to use our technology to detect COVID-19 so that no lives are at risk from this pandemic. No animal deserves to feel the pain Buddy did from SARS-CoV-2, which led to his unfortunate death.