Everyone is concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and among the concerns are our pets. Can they catch it? Can a dog or cat transmit it to people or other pets?

In present day times of confinement and quarantine having a pet around is some of the best medicine for whatever ails you (or might ail you).

The American Kennel Club has been swamped with similar questions since this whole mess started and here’s what they have to say about you and your pet’s health status when bonding:

Dogs can contract certain types of coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, but this specific novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is believed to not be a health threat to dogs.

The World Health Organization has stated, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”

The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person to person.” The CDC recommends that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, “but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this novel coronavirus.”

Two dogs in Hong Kong whose owners tested positive for COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus in what health officials characterize as “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.” Local government health officials emphasize that “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.”

 

SAFE TO PET YOUR DOG?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, petting a dog’s fur is a low risk. The association’s Chief Veterinary Officer Gail Golab says, “We’re not overly concerned about people contracting COVID-19 through contact with dogs and cats.” 

And there’s science behind that: “The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,” Golab says. “Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.”

“The CDC has not reported any cases of pets or other animals becoming infected with COVID-19 in the United States or anywhere else in the world, including hotbeds like Italy,” said Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the AKC.

Dr. Klein urged common sense best practices when it comes to our pets: “If you have children, you wouldn’t have them touch a puppy and put their fingers in their mouth, because they can have fecal contamination,” he says. “The general practice of washing our hands after touching a puppy or a dog — that’s normal hygiene.”

 

WALKING THE DOG

Physical and mental exercise are extremely important for dogs and dog owners alike. Before taking a walk, check your local regulations. As long as the area where you reside remains safe enough to venture outside, dog owners feeling healthy and well should plan to continue walking their dogs daily, albeit with added safety measures. Observe any local ordinances concerning curfews, even if that means adjusting your dog walking schedule.

Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Consider carrying around a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks. 

Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas when possible. If you live in a big city, make efforts to take your dog down less-heavily-trafficked blocks, or try adjusting walks to less busy times of day and night.

 

PROTECT YOUR PET 

For now, healthy pet owners in the United States don’t need to do anything other than follow basic hygienic precautions such as washing their hands with soap and water before and after contact with any animal, including dogs and cats.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, experts recommend that you should “restrict contact with (your) animals — both to avoid exposing the pets and to prevent getting the virus on their skin or fur, which might be passed on to another person who touches the animal.” 

To reduce the spread of all germs, you may consider wiping your pet’s paws when they come in and out of the house with a paw cleaner and paw wipes.

Dogs do not need a face mask to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. If you are still concerned or notice a change in your dog’s health, speak to a veterinarian. And the most important protection of all: Under no circumstances should owners abandon their dogs, cats, or other pets because of COVID-19 fears.

 

JOHNSON/STEELE BASS TOURNEY

The annual Paul Steele/Johnny Johnson Memorial Bass Tournament will be Saturday out of Paris Landing State Park marina. Sponsored locally by Hulme Sporting Goods, the event will have a $2,000 first-place prize.

Entry fee is $100 a boat. Teams can also enter on the morning of the event, as registration will begin at 4:30 a.m. at the boat ramp. 

Entry fee on the morning of the tournament is cash only. Big bass will guarantee $500 with an optional big fish pot entry fee of $20 a boat. Even the smallest five-fish limit earns $100.

Proceeds support scholarships and community youth programs through the nonprofit Two Rivers Bass Club.

 

TWRA SERVICES ONLINE

In response to COVID-19 and in order to comply with social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Bill Lee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is suspending in-person service at all TWRA offices. Until further notice, offices will not be open for walk-in service.

People can still call any office, email ask.TWRA@tn.gov, or visit www.TNWildlife.org for information. 

Licenses and boat registration are available online 24 hours a day at www.GoOutdoorsTennessee.com and fishing is a great family-friendly activity which follows recommended social distancing guidelines. Spring turkey season will open April 4 statewide for hunting as well.

 

YOUTH TURKEY HUNT

The youth season kicks off this year’s spring turkey hunting season in Tennessee. The regular spring turkey hunt starts the next weekend on April 4 and continues through May 17.

“We all need to practice healthy social distancing and follow the recommendations from the experts in this time,” said Joe Benedict, Wildlife and Forestry Division chief for the TWRA. “One way we can do that is to head outdoors and take advantage of turkey season.”  

The Young Sportsman Hunt is for ages 6-16. One bearded turkey is allowed a day and any turkey harvested during the Young Sportsman Hunt counts toward the spring season limit of four unless taken on a wildlife management area (WMA) where turkeys are designated as bonus birds.

Each young sportsman must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, age 21 or older, who must remain in position to take control of a device. Multiple youths may be accompanied by a single non-hunting adult who is not required to have a license.

More information on the Young Sportsman Hunt, the 2020 spring turkey season and WMAs can be found in the 2019-20 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide. The guide is online at www.tnwildlife.org and also available at TWRA license agents.

 

REFUGE SEEKS HUNTING COMMENTS

The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge is proposing to update the refuge’s hunting program and is seeking public comment on the changes.

The proposed changes include:

• pen hunting opportunities for dove and crow, and expanding hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer and squirrel that align with state seasons on the Duck River Remainder Unit of the refuge. This includes all the area of the Duck River Unit except the Duck River Bottoms area.

• xpand the opportunity to hunt resident Canada geese across all areas of the refuge.

Interested persons can review draft documents related to these changes, including the Draft Hunting Plan, Environmental Assessment and Draft Compatibility Determination (Draft Plan). The documents are available beginning March 25 for 30 days.

The Draft Plan is available on the refuge website at www.fws.gov/refuge/tennessee/. Or you can contact the refuge at 642-2091 to request either printed or electronic copies. Let the refuge officials know if you need the documents in an alternative format.

Comments may also be submitted to the refuge by mail at 1371 Wildlife Drive, Springville 38256 or email Barron_Crawford@fws.gov.

 

CARROLL LAKE TO REOPEN

After a long closure — almost six years — Carroll Lake is scheduled to reopen on April 4. 

The 90-acre lake under the umbrella of the TWRA’s state lake public fishing program, was the victim of flooding.

The popular fishing and picnic area will soon reopen, offering a lot of family fishing fun and outdoor opportunity.

Located just a few short miles east of McKenzie on Highway 22, the small lake offered many entry level fishermen a place to start. Bank fishermen especially enjoyed the shady shorelines. Fishing piers will also add another dimension.

Sitting silent these last few years and closed off to boaters and fishermen, the lake has been stocked with bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), largemouth bass, catfish and walleye.

A daily fishing permit is $6 but the TWRA offers an annual permit plus a perk of purchasing a sportsman’s license allows you to fish with no additional tags required. 

Children age 12 and under can fish free. Consult the TWRA Fishing Guide brochure for additional information or log onto the website at www.tnwildlife.org.

 

SPORTSMEN’S CALENDAR

Saturday — Paul Steele/Johnny Johnson Memorial Bass Tournament, Paris Landing State Park.

Saturday-Sunday — Young Sportsmen Turkey Hunt.

April 4-May 17 — Statewide turkey season.

April 4 — Carroll Lake reopens, McKenzie.

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