COVID-19 and animal welfare in Alert Level 4
Information about caring for pets and livestock during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact with animals
There is no evidence that pets or livestock species farmed in New Zealand can spread COVID-19.
Infectious disease experts and international organisations indicate there is no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection; including spreading COVID-19 to people.
However, it's good practice to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.
International advice is that, as a precautionary measure, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals, as they would with people.
MPI's position is that currently there is no need for animals to be quarantined. This is based on international advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the World Organisation for Animal Health (the OIE).
However, where there is COVID-19 in a household, we recommend animals are not moved off the property. You can also check for new updates on the CDC's website.
If your pet or service animal needs to go to the veterinarian
If you are not sick with COVID-19 or another communicable disease like the flu or a cold, call your veterinarian to make an appointment as you normally would.
If you are sick with COVID-19 or another disease, you should stay at home and minimise contact with others until you are well. Any non-urgent pet appointments should be rescheduled.
If your animal's situation is urgent and you have COVID-19, or suspect you might, call your veterinarian to determine how to best ensure your pet or service animal can be appropriately cared for while minimizing risks of transmitting COVID-19 to other people.
Do not take your animal to a veterinary clinic until you have contacted your veterinarian.
You can continue to walk your dog under any of the COVID-19 Alert Levels.
Some key points to follow are:
- Act like you have COVID-19. Every move you make could be a risk to someone else.
- Maintain a distance from other people, wear and mask, and don't invite anyone who isn't already in your self-isolation "bubble" to join you.
- If at all possible, walk from your house, rather than driving to a walking area. If it is essential to drive to a walking area (for example, you live on a rural road) - keep it local.
- Walk your dog on a leash. Keeping them on a leash minimises the chance of needing to break your "bubble" to retrieve your pet, as well as the risk of accidents. Don't do anything that may require help if you or your dog end up getting into trouble.
If someone in the household has COVID-19, then any dogs in the household should not be exercised off the property.
Visiting your horses
The overriding purpose of Alert Level 4 is that everyone stays at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
You can travel to care for your animals, including horses, if there is no alternative, and the location of the animal/s is within the same or adjacent territorial authority district. This includes providing your animals with food, water, and any other aspect that you need to provide to care for your animals.
If your horse can be cared for by the owner of the stables or grazing facility at which your horse is based, then you should stay at home. Their welfare is not at risk and limiting people movement is the priority.
If you do have to leave your house to attend to your horse, you will need to apply for a travel exemption before you leave. To apply for a personal exemption to travel across or within an Alert Level boundary please visit Ministry of Health website online form .
If your application is accepted, you must take the necessary health measures and comply with the Alert level measures specific to that region. Travel in your private vehicle and, if required, only with other members of your self-isolation group (or ‘social bubble’) only. Limit visits to what is essential.
You should also use your own grooming kit, tack, and other equipment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Avoid sharing equipment with people outside of your self-isolation group.
For horses grazed at a facility where feed or equipment may be stored centrally, take care to use good hygiene practices around door handles and other points which many owners may touch.
Everyone is being encouraged not to ride in order to reduce the pressure on emergency services in case of an accident.
If you are caring for your horse directly, you may ride your horse within the boundaries of the property on which it’s kept under Alert Level 4. Do not transport your horse by float to ride somewhere else.
If your horse is based at a grazing facility or stables and the owner of the facility is caring for your horse while you are at Alert Level 4, stay at home.
Caring for horses – Farriers
The overriding purpose of Alert Level 4 is that everyone stays at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 unless they are accessing or providing an essential service. Animal welfare is considered essential.
Farriers conduct essential services, where their work is essential for animal welfare. This does not mean farriers are able to commence routine work as the majority of their work can be postponed during the lockdown without compromising animal health.
However, if the treatment is considered essential to maintain the welfare of the animal during the lockdown period then a farrier should be called.
Farriers should use their discretion with each individual client and their horses as to what constitutes an emergency or an essential service while we are at Alert Level 4. During treatment, both parties must practice social distancing and good hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and comply with region-specific travel measures.
Picking up pets from Quarantine
If the quarantine facility where your animal is being held is not within your local area, it's recommended that you ask the facility whether it's possible to arrange prolonged accommodation for your pet for the duration of Alert Level 4. If that is not possible, you should attempt to find a boarding facility for your animal, in the vicinity of the quarantine facility.
Note: Any movement or interactions must follow the Government's hygiene guidelines and comply with region-specific travel measures.
Pet stores can fill online and phone orders, but the stores themselves must remain closed to the public.
The definition for essential business or services excludes in-store sales.
Online sales for delivery of animal food and other essential products may continue. Any fulfilment centre must observe social distancing practices. Pick-ups and deliveries must be contactless.
Veterinary practices and services within pet retail outlets follow the same requirements as veterinarians.
Pet retail outlets need to have provisions in place for staff to safely attend to any animals in store.
The overriding purpose of Alert Level 4 is that everyone stays at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Travel to care for your animals, including bees, is also allowed if essential and it cannot be deferred, and you are complying with any region-specific travel measures. Managing disease and preventing starvation are vital to ensure bee health and survival. Hives can still be managed for this purpose.
If you do leave your house to attend to your bees, take the necessary health measures, travel in your private vehicle, with other members of your self-isolation group (or ‘social bubble') only, and keep a keep a log of your travel for contact tracing purposes.
It is recommended that non-commercial beekeepers limit any beekeeping activities outside of your home property during the period of lockdown. However, if you do have hives away from your home property and need to feed or treat them for disease, communication with landowners should be by phone. Ensure they are aware that beekeeping is an essential service, and your access is legitimate. Restrict on farm interactions with landowners to a wave.
You should use your own equipment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
You should also consider what will happen should you become sick and can no longer care for your bees. If possible, set up an arrangement with someone to provide hive management should you be unable to.
MPI's role in maintaining animal welfare during the pandemic
We have a role during emergencies to co-ordinate animal welfare services and to make sure animal welfare needs are considered. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help animal owners meet their animal's needs if they (or whoever is in charge of it) cannot.
For further questions
If you have questions about animal welfare, email email@example.com