This year’s wildlife season brings many challenges to wildlife rescue centers and rehabilitators. The COVID-19 situation, with social distancing and limited gatherings, has meant that many wildlife centers have lost a key source of their donation income. At New York Wildlife Rescue, the organization I work with, the educational programs have had to be put on hold, and that means that a large percentage of their donations have dried up. There are many other wild animal rescue organizations, and individual rehabbers, in the same situation.
Under normal circumstances, when we humans have a virus, we can safely say that our pets won’t be affected. Human colds and flu don’t infect dogs, cats, or horses. Even the old suspicion that guinea pigs can catch a human cold turned out to be nothing but a superstition.
Now, it appears, we have met a foe that can be transmitted to animals. A news report has come to light that a number of tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo have fallen ill with respiratory symptoms. One of the tigers was tested, and found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
Senior pets bring certain challenges into our lives, but the joys they provide far outweigh the worries. They are true, and they are faithful. They know us through and through. Their old eyes look right into our souls, and can see the love we have for them in our hearts. They listen to our troubles, and understand our very natures. They have grown not only to be eternally beside us, but to be a part of us. They have helped, in their twelve or fifteen or eighteen years of companionship, to make us who we are.