Fortunately, pets are not affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the same fashion as humans are. There is extensive information on why dogs and cats are not viral disease transmitters to humans.
However, the transformation in pet owners’ lives due to the pandemic and the fear associated with it is leading to pet abandonment in Latin America. Several local pro-pet organizations are urging pet owners to avoid leaving their dogs out in the street amidst the outbreak.
One of many problems that societies face with abandoned pets is feeding them. To mitigate the situation, some governments in Latin America have implemented a few actions to help street cat and dogs.
In Perú, for example, provincial governments are installing pet food dispensers on the street to periodically feed street dogs. Most pet food dispensers are made from recycled PVC tubes that are attached to walls and lampposts. In Bolivia, the government is supporting shelters with supplies of pet food during the quarantine period.
In Colombia, authorities launched a campaign nationwide to protect pets during the outbreak. In some cities, the government installed pet food dispensers in the streets, exhorting citizens to donate dry pet food for fill the dispensers. In other cities of Colombia, the local governments are requesting donations of frozen pet food given likely shortages of dry food.
In Mexico, there are dog shelters, such as Colitas Felices Juárez A.C., requesting donations of pet food, as the quarantine is impacting their traditional programs of donor visits to their establishment. Overall, dozens of dog shelters are suffering from pet food shortages and are urging the population to donate. As these shelters are privately owned, they are using social networks like Facebook to launch aid campaigns.
There are several stories and experiences as to how the pandemic is reshaping the dynamics of the pet abandonment situation. In the coming weeks, most Latin American countries may reinforce or extend their pandemic quarantine measures, and such animal shelters would require further support.
View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has collaborated on hundreds of research projects for several consumer goods industries. He was granted the Global Consultant of the Year award by Euromonitor International and authored the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.