Animal response team talks pets and virus

Some pet owners are wondering what precautions they need to consider when it comes to how COVID-19 could affect their animals.

The Mercer County Animal Response Team is helping point pet owners in the right direction.

The nonprofit, which assists animals in times of disaster like weather events, fires and motor vehicle accidents, has been sharing tips on its Facebook page and referring people to resources including the Pennsylvania Animal Response Team, said Debbee Harold, coordinator of Mercer CART.

“It’s also good to educate the people,” she said.

A news release from Mercer CART and the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency recommends that pet owners have a copy of their pet’s vaccination records in case the person has to use temporary shelter for their animals.

“They won’t take the animal if it’s not fully vetted,” Harold said of boarding kennels.

Keep a month’s supply of food and water for each pet and necessary medication.

Make arrangements with a neighbor, friend or relative for pet’s care in case you have to leave for an emergency or you’re unable to return home.

Instructions should include information about your pet’s needs, and even details about their favorite hiding places.

“We had an issue trying to find a cat one time,” Harold recalled of an emergency response.

These are good plans to have in place any time, not just in response to a pandemic, she added.

Contact your pet’s veterinarian if you have specific questions or concerns, she added.

The COVID-19 situation has worried some people into believing they can catch the disease from their pets or vice versa.

“It can’t be transmitted to people,” Harold said of infected animals.

She’s heard from friends in animal rescue that some people are turning their pets over to animal shelters because of those fears, which include not being able to afford pet food.

“Or a lot of pets are just being let loose,” she said.

Farmers are being advised to limit contacts on their properties and to have staff members practice social distancing, according to the news release.

They should also prepare for illness and a decreased work force, and keep in mind that COVID-19 can live on the hide of animals.

For more information about the Mercer County Animal Response Team, call 724-992-0520 or 724-988-9100, email or visit or the group’s Facebook page. For more information about the Pennsylvania Animal Response Team, visit

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