Man’s Best Friend & COVID-19


“German Shepherd HDR” by Damian Synnott is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Maeli Ibarra, Staff Writer

Can your pet test positive for coronavirus? The answer is YES! Buddy, a beautiful German Shepherd, was the first dog in the United States that tested positive for covid-19. 

Buddy was 7 years old, and he was a sweetheart. He was the best big brother to Duke, who is 10 months old. Buddy was very protective over Duke.  He loved to run through sprinklers and swim in lakes, and he absolutely loved long car rides. Most importantly he loved everyone, and he lived for his name. 

In mid-April of the year 2020, Buddy had begun to struggle to breathe. Six weeks later, his owners, the Mahoneys, were told he was the first dog in the U.S. who was confirmed to have covid-19.

The Mahoneys struggled to find a vet that would examine their dog. His vet wasn’t seeing patients due to the pandemic. Another clinic wouldn’t allow Mr. Mahoney to enter the clinic, because he had himself contracted coronavirus. Instead, Buddy was prescribed antibiotics over the phone. The vets were not convinced Buddy had covid-19 and said they didn’t have test kits either way. No one except Mr. Mahoney believed that Buddy might have been exposed to the virus.

Buddy had lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymphatic system. It’s unclear whether Buddy’s cancer made him susceptible to contracting the virus, or if the virus was responsible for any of his symptoms. The Mahoneys didn’t learn that the cancer was being considered likely to be the case until the blood work confirmed it. On June 2, 2020, the Mahoneys received a call from the New York City Department of Health that Buddy, as a matter of fact, did in fact have covid-19. Buddy passed away on July 11, 2020. 

Until now, Buddy’s case was kept private. A press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture disclosed Buddy’s locality as Staten Island, New York and his breed as German Shepherd. The Department also confirmed his likely source of transmission from his covid-positive owner and his status. 

For humans, the symptoms of covid-19 vary widely. In some, its existence is barely noticable, but in others it can include organ failure. However, it’s rare for animals to be affected. When they are exposed to the virus, it’s usually because their owner has the virus. Usually, animals have mild symptoms and are expected to recover. 

It is important to remember that pets can be exposed to the virus if the owners have tested positive. Some pets will not show any signs of illness, just like how some of us usually don’t. Some will get sick and can be taken care of at home, but some pets like Buddy can die from the virus. 

Based on the slight information that has been given, there is a chance for pets to spread covid-19 to people. Animals are allowed to be tested for coronavirus, but this is only recommended for those who have shown symptoms and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.