Panicked dog owners have been asking a vet to euthanise their pets over coronavirus fears, it has been claimed.
The Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in Australia says it has received three calls in just two weeks from anxious clients who fear their animals could infect them with the potentially deadly virus and want them put to be put to sleep.
But vet Dr Sam Kovac has refused these requests, as there is no evidence that dogs can transmit Covid-19 to humans.
Pointing out it is unlikely his clients would consider euthanising an elderly relative, he said: "The last thing we need to do is create mass hysteria about the possibility of dogs being infected, and therefore potentially transmitting this virus when there is absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever."
"If you'd ask the same clients if they'd euthanise their grandma, they'd say no.
"Why have a pet and treat it differently to how you'd treat another family member?"
Speaking to 10 Daily , the vet, who works in St Peters, Sydney, also urged people not to stop taking their dogs for walks in the park.
Although dogs can contract canine coronavirus, it is not the same form of the virus as Covid-19, which has now killed more than 3,000 people worldwide.
It is believed that the global epidemic, which started in Wuhan, China, originated in bats but was transferred to humans from pangolins, a mammal covered in distinctive scales.
"If my dog Clara had been infected with [Covid-19], I would isolate her, I would wear protective equipment while interacting with her and feeding her and isolate her for a few weeks," he continued.
Dr Kovac says he is disturbed by the amount of misinformation which is circulating, particularly on social media.
He also raised fears that pets could be killed unnecessarily by 'unscrupulous' people happy to profit from the panic.
It is believed that confusion has stemmed from an outbreak of canine coronavirus in Victoria, which led to greyhounds being required to enter quarantine for 14 days before entering races.
However, the coronavirus which affects dogs cannot be spread to humans.
It primarily causes contagious gastroenteritis, a highly infectious intestinal disease which can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea, although most will recover in a few days.
Greyhound Racing Victoria has scrapped a number of races because of fears of the outbreak spreading after it started in Western Australia in December.
"As GRV continues to monitor the illness it is recommended there are restrictions on the movement of dogs kennelled in Victoria and which travel interstate to race," the body said in a statement.
However, the chief health officer for New South Wales, Dr Kerry Chant, has confirmed there is no connection with COVID-19, which has caused a global health emergency.
"Domestic pets do not pose a risk of transmission in Australia," she said.
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