PETA India Answers Questions About Companion and Community Animals During COVID-19

For Immediate Release:

12 May 2021

Dr Rashmi Gokhale; [email protected]

Hiraj Laljani ; [email protected]

Mumbai – “Can I catch COVID-19 from my dog?” That’s one of the questions People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has been asked as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout India. This and other commonly asked questions have prompted the group to offer a Q&A about COVID-19 and companion and community animals:

  • Can my dog or cat transmit COVID-19? According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), “There is no evidence that companion animals are playing an epidemiological role in the spread of human infections of SARS-CoV-2” [emphasis added]. COVID-19 is being transmitted in India among humans, and a very small number of companion dogs and cats have caught the virus from their infected guardians, but there are no known cases of these animals transferring the virus to humans.
  • What should I do if I become ill with COVID-19 and have a companion dog or cat at home? Anyone who develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 should request that a healthy member of their household or a trusted friend care for their companion animal. This is mainly because the disease can be debilitating and leave people unable to care for their animals, and it would help avoid the very slim chance that the virus might be transmitted to an animal.
  • Am I allowed to feed community animals? Yes! Community animals are dependent on restaurant waste and handouts, and during lockdowns, if they aren’t fed, they will starve and suffer. People can continue to feed them and give them water while complying with basic safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, maintaining distance from others, and adhering to handwashing and sanitisation protocols.
  • Is taking companion animals out for walks allowed? Anyone who isn’t showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has recovered from the disease and completed 14 days of mandatory quarantine can take animals out for walks while complying with local lockdown restrictions and basic safety protocols.
  • What should I do for a companion animal whose human family has passed away? It’s best for families to make plans for the future care of any animal companions. If a family hasn’t made such plans and tragedy has struck, friends or relatives must step in to adopt an animal if they have the time, patience, resources, and love to do so – or try to find another suitable home for them.
  • Does my companion dog or cat need to wear a mask? Never put a face mask on an animal, as that can cause breathing difficulties and there’s no need for a companion animal to wear a mask.
  • What should I do if I see someone being cruel to a dog or cat? Please call PETA India’s emergency number: (0) 98201 22602.

“Dogs and cats rely on us for everything, and during times of crisis, they need us more than ever,” says PETA India Manager of Veterinary Services Dr Rashmi Gokhale. “PETA India urges everyone to rise to the occasion by ensuring that their animal companions receive lifelong love and care – and that community animals get the help they need, too.”

PETA India stresses that the OIE states, “There is no justification in taking measures which may compromise the welfare of companion animals.” In other words, there is no reason or justification whatsoever to abandon a companion dog or cat over fears concerning COVID-19. Doing so is a punishable offence under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit