Animal welfare

Can I leave home to look after an animal’s welfare?

Yes, if the animal welfare need is essential and required.

Persons in charge of the animals have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure their welfare. Persons in charge of animals can travel within Tasmania to ensure the animal's welfare.

In the current COVID crisis response some considerations apply:

  • What is truly an essential service?
  • What could feasibly and ethically be postponed until such time as the COVID-19 risk is reduced?

Animal owners should ask themselves whether failure to act or to call for professional advice could result in:

  • a real risk to the animal’s health,
  • a known impact on the animal’s welfare
  • an impact on food security and safety, or public health.

If any of the above apply, then leaving your home to care for the animal will likely be justified and travel must be conducted according to the COVID rules and procedures.

The Tasmanian Veterinary Board has provided some guidance on this topic.

In deciding whether to undertake specific procedures and tasks, veterinarians must exercise their professional judgement.

It is not possible in the current situation to provide specific guidance for every animal care situation.

The same is true for animal owners.

See Resources for the latest directions from the Director of Public Health and for all other updates about the COVID-19 situation in Tasmania including permissible travel.

Information for animal owners, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels

The welfare of all animals under care is our individual responsibility. The COVID-19 response measures recognise this and permit us to reasonably continue to look after our animals. If you are having difficulty in doing so - seek help from family, friends or registered animal shelters and kennels.

What is the risk of a companion animal contracting or spreading the coronavirus?

There is very little evidence that cats and dogs or any other common pet animal species can become infected with or develop disease or are able to effectively transmit the coronavirus.

The risk of coronavirus transmission to humans from fur or animal coats is assessed as low. However, animals in close proximity to infected humans may become contaminated and act as a vehicle (fomite) for carrying the coronavirus.

Depending on the animal housing environment, studies show that coronavirus survival on fur without any treatment is unlikely to exceed two days under room temperature and conditions extrapolated from limited studies on the closely related SARS CoV virus.

My animal may have come into contact with a person with COVID-19 - what should I do?

It is recommended animals in contact with humans with COVID-19 should be washed immediately before entering any type of alternative accommodation including other households, boarding kennels, animal shelters and before a visit to the vet.

If contact with a human COVID-19 case has occurred, it is also recommended that people with adequate PPE transport the animal to the arranged destination for further treatment and care, ensuring appropriate hygiene procedures are also met.

Shampoo, soaps and detergents effectively applied, destroy the coronavirus. Any human shampoo or soap is fine for use on animals.

A hot detergent wash is recommended for cleaning pet bedding and other associated items.

Animal-human face contact should be minimised and appropriate PPE and hygiene procedures used according to the coronavirus risk context.

Hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their food and water bowls.

Visits to veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels

Just like many other businesses, in the current climate, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels require an appointment before any visit and prefer payment by credit card. Physical distancing rules apply.

In the current situation, some veterinary services may not be available.

It is very important that the coronavirus risk status of the household is clearly communicated to veterinary clinics or alternative accommodation facilities before visiting so they can take appropriate measures.

A coronavirus risk assessment should be applied to species such as horses, livestock and birds to assess the risk of contamination and the need for decontamination.

This risk assessment is a series of questions:

  • Is there anyone in contact who has COVID in the last 2 days?
  • Is there any possible contact with a COVID contaminated situation?
  • Do I routinely touch, pat, cuddle the animal?
  • Is it practical to wash the animal?
  • Will washing adversely affect the health of the animals?

There is a potential coronavirus risk with ferrets and extra caution should be taken with this species if they have been exposed to an infected owner.

Are animal shelters able to stay open?

Yes, animal shelters service are an important animal welfare function. Shelter operations must abide by physical distancing rules. Shelters must practice good hygiene practices.

Visiting shelters (by non-workers/volunteers) needs to be carefully considered and only essential travel undertaken in consultation with the business.

What do I do if my animal is unwell?

Taking an animal in an emergency situation to the vet is essential travel. If your pet is sick or injured call a vet. If an animal is unwell you can travel to the vet, but you must call them first and abide by physical distancing rules.

What do I do with my animal if I am sick and need to go to hospital?

If you are sick and need to go to hospital and the only option you have is to board your animal, then that is defined as essential travel. Make arrangements for your pet to travel and an appointment with your kennel. Abide by physical distancing rules.

Can I put my pet into board so I can do day or overnight trips?

Yes, a pet can be placed in board if it ensures their welfare whilst the person in charge of the animal is absent for any of the reasons permitted under the Direction.

Where can I find more information?