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New England Animal Medical Center

Brockton-area veterinarians turn to drive-up pet intake in face of coronavirus

Drive up veterinarian and car

To reduce the spread of the virus, some local veterinary practices are meeting owners and pets outside and keeping their buildings closed. Others are practicing social distancing and focusing on cleaning.

Local veterinarians are used to dealing with sick pets. But, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s not the pets they are worried about but their potentially sick owners.

Many Brockton-area animal health clinics and hospitals have changed how they operate, practicing social distancing and limiting contact with pet owners, so they can continue to treat their furry friends.

“So far everyone is being hugely grateful and appreciative,” said Alberto L. Fernandez, medical director of New England Animal Medical Center in West Bridgewater. “We’re here for the community and the animals that need help.”

Animals can get sick, but not because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that cats or dogs have become ill from the virus or can infect humans or other animals.

At the end of February, a dog in Hong Kong whose owner tested positive for COVID-19 had “weak positive” results from the virus, but didn’t show clinical signs of the disease, according to a WHO report.

Later tests showed the dog was negative for the disease. The 17-year-old Pomeranian died Monday, the South China Morning Post reported.

But it’s not pets with COVID-19 that animal hospitals and clinics are worried about, but their human owners.

Some facilities including New England Animal Medical Center have opted to meet owners and their pets at their cars and are having people wait while their pets are taken inside for an exam or treatment. Afterward, the animal is brought back and a veterinarian will call to review the visit and any concerns.

Karen Martin, the administrator for the center, said it was a struggle at the beginning of the week when it switched to a closed building and staff started meeting people at their cars. Each day that has gone by has made it a smoother transition, she said.