News / Industry News & Events / Open Letter... Regarding Pets and COVID-19 Precautions (03/24/20)

Open Letter... Regarding Pets and COVID-19 Precautions


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We in the responsible pet care community are extremely concerned by the threat to human health posed by the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic, and commend the swift actions you and your peers across the country are taking to safeguard the population. As you take defensive steps by directing event cancellations and facility closures in order to create social distances that will help control the spread of disease, we urge you to also consider the well-being of the pets and other animals loved by the citizens in your communities.

According to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67% of American households (84.9 million) own at least one pet. 95% of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. It is vital that businesses that provide products or services for the care of pets, and those that house animals, are included among the critical infrastructure that is allowed to remain open throughout the crisis. Just as grocery stores and hospitals provide necessary sustenance and medical care to humans, pet stores that sell food, products and supplies and businesses that offer veterinary and boarding services must remain operational to ensure the continued humane care of animals.

Pet stores supply nearly one-third of all dog and cat food needed by the pet-owning population; that number is much higher for food required by other pets like small mammals, reptiles and fish. Grocery stores that may be allowed to remain open generally only offer limited pet food options and they dont always have the specialized food, supplements and even medication that are required to maintain the health of millions of beloved pets and animals nationwidenor are they set up logistically to serve ALL pets in this country. Grocery stores alone cannot fulfill the demand and animals would needlessly suffer.

Additionally, many national and local retail pet supply stores also offer veterinary care and pet boarding services on site. Forcing these stores to close in many cases will also shut down access to veterinary care, veterinary pet diets, and a dependable facility to temporarily house pets in that community.

It should be noted that pet stores which house and care for animals, such as puppies, kittens, small animals, birds, reptiles and fish, must remain operational to at least a limited degree so that staff can take appropriate care of the animals housed there. Since staff will need to be on site regardless of whether or not the store is open, it makes sense to allow them to provide pet owners with necessary food and care items.

You are already taking important measures necessary to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, including the elderly and the immunocompromised. We ask you to also ensure that your community has the ability to provide appropriate care for the pets and animals that depend on them, and list pet stores as essential retailers that are exempt from any mandatory closures.

If you have any questions or need additional information, we in the responsible pet care community stand ready to help you safeguard both human and animal health and well-being.