The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, announced a confirmed case of the virus that causes COVID-19 in a dog. According to the USDA, this is “the first dog in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.”
The agency was silent as to whether the dog had any kind of underlying condition prior to infection, but it did state that there is no evidence of dogs passing the virus onto people and “no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”
On that score, the evidence is strong:
- This is the only dog to test positive in the U.S. By contrast, nearly 2,000,000 people have.
- The USDA noted that humans in the dog’s household tested positive and showed symptoms before the dog, not the other way around.
- A study which tried to deliberately infect dogs with SARS-CoV-2 found that none of the dogs acquired it, despite being injected with a massive dose directly up their noses (over 30 times greater than would be found in nature).*
- Dr. Jane Sykes, the Chief Veterinary Medical Officer of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, noted that, “There are major diagnostic laboratories in the U.S. that have now tested more than 6,000 dogs and cats, from all over this country [and] from other impacted countries since the outbreak began and all of those animals have tested negative.”
- Idexx Laboratories had analyzed more than 5,000 samples “from pet cats and dogs in 17 countries that were submitted by veterinarians for respiratory-related tests. It found zero cases…”
- Another commercial laboratory in the United States also reported they had tested “thousands of specimens from dogs and cats for SARS-CoV-2 and had obtained no positive results. These specimens have come from the United States, South Korea, Canada, and Europe, including regions concurrently experiencing human COVID-19 cases.”
- A Tufts University virologist says dogs are almost certainly “dead end hosts” and as such, cannot pass it to other animals or to people: “The virus may be able to infect tissues or cells in a host, say, the respiratory tract, but they’re not able to complete the life cycle in terms of transmitting to a new host.”
The dog is expected to make a full recovery.
* It should go without saying that there are ethical issues inherent in any study that would deliberately attempt to inflict on sentient, non-human animals a disease so grave in terms of potential suffering and death that we have all collectively adopted extreme measures, including shutting down the economies of the world, to avoid contracting it ourselves.
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