April 16, 2020

Pets and Our New Families

“…. last night, I thought, ‘what is a family, anyway?’ They’re just people who make you feel less alone… and really loved.”

Mary Richards, The Mary Tyler Moore Show

You may not be old enough to remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show, even in reruns, but I certainly do. The show was ground-breaking and reflected the changing times in the 1970’s when it was created and produced. The quote above was in the final episode and reflected a change that was already occurring in the world: the redefining of what it means to be a family.

Today, we understand families take many forms. Blended families and chosen families likely now far outnumber the families we envisioned in a pre-1970’s world. Another change is that we now include our pets in our understanding of family.

We are now in a global health crisis. Information changes daily, some of it reliable, some half-baked or misleading, and some outright false. Information on COVID-19 and pets has been no exception. At the OHS, we have been receiving a dizzying amount of information to sort through to make good decisions both for our staff and the animals in our care, and to share with our community. We have primarily relied on and recommended the WHO and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association for the most up-to-date and reliable information. The OHS also provides information, mostly from these sources, on our website.

To date, it has become clear that pets do not play a significant role in the spread of this pandemic; but they can be affected. Because pets can be affected, it’s important to preserve physical distance for them and to isolate yourself from them if you test positive for the virus, just as you would for any family member.

If we learn more or different information that is reliable, we will share it. No matter what we may learn over the coming weeks and months, we will all want to use it to protect ourselves and our families. But whatever happens, we know this: our families include our pets. And we don’t abandon our family. Not now. Not ever.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO