For the love of all things dog: The fifth annual Bow Wow Film Festival, which runs for a week, beginning today (Friday). The price of admission benefits the Second Chance Humane Society. Purchase a ticket at adoptmountainpets.org. (Courtesy photo)

Until a couple of weeks ago, felines were known to contract the novel coronavirus. Tigers in the Bronx Zoo came down with it; so did house cats.

More recently, a Chinese pug, residing in North Carolina, made headlines: that dog reportedly contracted the virus, too.

Now add minks to the list. The World Organization for Animal Health, the intergovernmental group that tracks animal diseases worldwide, recently reported that all three species — cats, dogs, and sinuous, stoatlike carnivores until now more famous for their luxurious fur — have become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name of the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans). All of them contracted the virus after close contact with humans (preliminary results suggest cats are the most susceptible). 

“The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission,” the organization emphasized on its website. “To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant role in spreading the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.” 

It appears that cats and dogs are more susceptible to contracting virus from us, instead of the other way around. Luckily, San Juan pets appear coronavirus-free, said Ellen Williamson, founder of the Telluride Humane Society. 

“Every pet locally that I’m aware of has been fine,” Williamson said. “I haven’t heard of a single admission” to an animal hospital related to the virus in either dogs or cats. 

There are plenty of other, more immediate, threats to pets’ health, such as ticks and fleas, that need attending to these days, Williamson said. Until recently, the only type of medical care permitted for pets — just as for humans — had to be “essential.” 

“For example, if an animal was hit by a car and required life-saving surgery,” Williamson said. But that has changed. Yet unfortunately, “nonessential” treatments for pets now cost more money than many pet owners can spare these days. 

That’s where local humane societies come in. The Telluride Humane Society, for example, helps with the cost of treatments that owners might otherwise not be able to afford. 

“If you don’t take care of things like treating pets for ticks and fleas, two to four months later we often end up seeing animals with some really serious health issues because they didn’t get their medications,” Williamson said. “That’s where we’re helping. We do not want these services to not be provided.”

In Ridgway, the Second Chance Humane Society has announced a new program: low-cost, low-income “wellness clinics” with Dr. Shannon Janda, featuring free wellness exams, and low-cost vaccinations, de-worming heartworm testing and more. 

Microchipping your pet, perhaps the safest, surest way to get them back if they’re ever lost, is just $15; spay and neutering costs start at $35. 

The clinics are held at the Second Chance Shelter, located at 177 County Road 10 (off Route 550, just north of downtown Ridgway). Call 970-626-2273 to learn more.

You don’t have to leave your home to support local pets (for that matter, you don’t even have to own a pet to support local pets — you just have to care about their welfare). 

Both the Telluride Humane Society and Second Chance gratefully accept donations at their websites (telluridehumanesociety.com and adoptmountainpets.org, respectively), and you can also contribute starting today (Friday) through next week by watching the Bow Wow Film Festival. The fifth annual fest is online this year, but the short features on “all things dog” are as entertaining as ever. To purchase a ticket, visit Second Chance’s website. For a preview, go to bowwowfilmfest.com.

The Telluride Humane Society recently assisted with the medical care of an older cat that had never been spayed. 

“We’re covering the costs of its hospitalization,” Williamson said. “That cat is an essential companion to its owner. A pet’s health and its owner’s health — it goes both ways.”