COVID-19 and animal welfare in Alert Level 3

Information about caring for pets and livestock in Alert Level 3

Contact with animals

There remains no evidence that domestic animals (pets or livestock) can spread COVID-19 and routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not justified.

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.

Where there is COVID-19 in a household, it is recommended that animals are not moved off the property.

You can also check for new updates on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s website.

Frequently asked questions on COVID-19 – CDC

Questions and answers on COVID-19 – OIE

Coronavirus disease 2019 – CDC

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 discuss whether your animal needs veterinary attention.

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.

Animal welfare - COVID-19   

Walking dogs

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 of 2 metres from other people, and don’t invite anyone who isn’t already in your "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 (e.g. you live on a rural road) - keep it local.
  • Walk your dog on a leash. 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.

Safely walking your dog

Pets and animal care

Doggy daycare, dog grooming, kennels and catteries, dog walking and other care services

Animal and pet care service businesses can operate at Alert Level 3 if they can meet safe practice requirements and can operate without physical contact with (human) customers. Only workers are allowed on business premises. Worksafe has guidance on this.

Advice for businesses operating at Alert Level 3 - Worksafe

Sale and adoption

If you can wait until Alert Level 2, please do so in order to restrict travel.

Sale and adoption can be done under Alert Level 3, as long as it is contactless. Businesses need to meet safe practice requirements.

When travelling to deliver/pick-up your pet within your region, you will need to ensure that safe practices are implemented. For example, ensuring a safe distance between all people involved in transporting and receiving the animal, and practicing good hygiene practices, such as hand washing. You will not be able to enter business premises and may have to pick up your pet from outside.

You cannot travel to another region to personally deliver/pick up an animal as part of a sale, but the animal can be transported as freight with a commercial pet transport company.  

Horses

Visiting your horses

Travel to care for your animals, including horses, is allowed. This includes providing your animals with food, water and any other aspect that you need to provide to meet your responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act and relevant codes of welfare.

Horse owners who had previously had their horses cared for by the owner of the stables or grazing facility under Level 4 restrictions are able to visit their horses under Level 3 restrictions. However, hygiene measures and social distancing will need to be in place to minimise the possible transmission of COVID-19 between owners. A roster system for horse owners to visit the facility may be one measure that could be implemented to meet this requirement and to ensure contact tracing is easily achievable.

When you do leave your house to attend to your horse, travel in your private vehicle, with other members of your "bubble" only. Limit visits to what is essential.

Riding recreationally

Horse riding (away from private land) is a recreational activity and allowed under Alert Level 3.

It is important that you ride in a local area, which you can do safely, and which does not involve interacting with other people from outside your bubble, or equipment touched by other people.

Now is not the time to take up new activities, or expose yourself to any risk that would put pressure on emergency services in case of an accident. Use your common sense – stay local, stay safe.

Riding lessons

Coaches and trainers are permitted travel to provide horse riding lessons under Alert Level 3, as long as relevant infection control measures are applied, such as physical distancing, and the service is provided in the same, or a nearby, region.

Riding schools cannot have clients on site. Clients are not permitted to travel to a school or coach.

Caring for horses – Farriers 

Farriers can operate under Alert Level 3, as long as public health measures are taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. During Alert Level 3, everyone should strive for social distancing of 1 metre.

Information about animal welfare, including a list of vets  

More guidance on these safety assurances can be found on the Primary sector businesses page.

Primary sector businesses in Alert Level 3

Horse care services/paraprofessionals (including clippers, saddle fitters, dentistry, chiropractors etc)

Animal and horse care service businesses can operate at Alert Level 3, but only if they can meet safe practice requirements and can operate without physical contact with (human) customers. Ensure any requirements for veterinary care and oversight are met.

Worksafe has guidance on this.

Advice for businesses operating at Alert Level 3 - Worksafe

Pet Transport

Transport of an animal (domestic pet) as part of a sale or adoption

Local region

Travel is allowed for essential personal movement in your area (which can include crossing a regional boundary that is part of your local area), including for accessing local services and businesses. When travelling to deliver/pick-up your pet, you will need to ensure that safe practices are implemented. For example, ensuring a safe distance between all people involved in transporting and receiving the animal, and practicing good hygiene practices, such as hand washing. You will not be able to enter business premises and may have to pick up your pet from outside.

Another region 

You cannot travel to another region to personally deliver/pick up an animal as part of a sale, but the animal can be transported as freight with a commercial pet transport company.  

Transporting an animal domestic (pet) as part of a sale or adoption using a commercial provider 

Yes you can use a commercial provider to transport an animal, but this will likely be via land transport. Check with commercial providers.

Importing a cat or dog into New Zealand during Alert Level 3

There are no formal restrictions on the import of cats and dogs into New Zealand at present. However, international flight availability for the carriage of live animals is severely limited. In addition, it will be difficult for you to pick up your pet from the airport or the quarantine facility unless you live in the area because of COVID travel restrictions. We recommend that you contact a pet transporter to check whether your pet can be transported both to New Zealand and within New Zealand. Any travel plans within New Zealand will need to follow the information given on the COVID-19 website.

COVID-19

MPI is unable to provide authorisation for owners’ to travel in their own private vehicle over long distances to a facility to collect their pet, but provide the above information as a guide.

Pets in quarantine and collection

We understand how difficult it is for owners who have not been able to pick up their pets from quarantine because of Covid-19 restrictions. You can collect your pet, but it’s recommended that you use a commercial pet transporter.

Travel is allowed for essential personal movement in your area (which can include crossing a regional boundary that is part of your local area), including for accessing local services and businesses. When travelling to deliver/pick- up your pet, you will need to ensure that safe practices are implemented. For example, ensuring a safe distance between all people involved in transporting and receiving the animal, and practicing good hygiene practices, such as hand washing. You will not be able to enter business premises and may have to pick up your pet from outside.

You cannot travel to another region to personally pick up your animal from a quarantine facility, but the animal can be transported as freight with a commercial pet transport company.  

MPI is unable to provide authorisation for owners’ to travel in their own private vehicle over long distances to a facility to collect their pet, but provide the above information as a guide.

Pet supplies

Pet stores can fill online and phone orders, but the stores themselves must remain closed to the public.

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. Where essential items cannot be shipped (bulky/perishable), the customer may pick up, but only by pre-arrangement and without human contact.

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.

Bees

Travel to care for your animals, including bees, is also allowed if essential and it cannot be deferred. 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, and comply with any region-specific travel measures. Travel in your private vehicle, with other members of your “bubble" only.

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. Restrict on farm interactions with landowners to a wave.  

You should use your own equipment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Avoid sharing equipment with people outside of your “bubble.”

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.

Support for animal welfare community agencies

We are aware that some community agencies are being approached by animal owners who are dealing with a range of challenges because of the pandemic.

We have collated a list of agencies that volunteer organisations can use to direct animal owners to the specific help they need.

Support for the primary industries during COVID-19

For further questions

If you have questions about animal welfare, email animal.welfare@mpi.govt.nz

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