Among many burning questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, pet owners have been especially concerned about how the virus could affect their furry friends. Back in April, Parentology reported on the possibility of passing the disease on to pets. Now, a sad report from National Geographic suggests that concerns may be legitimate. The outlet is stating that Buddy, the first dog in the US to test positive for coronavirus, has died.
A Sudden Sickness
Buddy’s owners, Robert and Allison Mahoney, told National Geographic the German Shepard had been in good health until April. That’s when he began to have difficulty breathing.
No one other than Robert suspected that Buddy may have had COVID-19. He himself had struggled with the disease in the previous weeks, experiencing loss of taste, scratchy throat, and weakness.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought [Buddy] was positive,” he said.
At first, however, getting Buddy the help he needed wasn’t easy. The pandemic had shut down their usual vet, and another near their Staten Island home wouldn’t let Robert bring Buddy in since the man had previously contracted the virus.
It was also difficult convincing vets that Buddy may have COVID-19. From April to May, the Mahoneys took Buddy to several vets. Doctors found many health problems, including a heart murmur and enlarged spleen and liver. Still, they remained skeptical that COVID-19 was a cause. They prescribed antibiotics, heart medications, and steroids.
Still, Buddy continued to have trouble breathing and was losing weight rapidly due to lost appetite.
Finally, the Mahoneys convinced the Bay Street Animal Hospital to test Buddy for the virus. As Robert had guessed, the results came back positive.
Buddy’s health declined further in the weeks that followed. Though he eventually tested negative for the virus, indicating he once had it but that it had left his body, his breathing was so labored that it sounded “like a freight train,” said Allison Mahoney.
The family continued taking Buddy to the vet, who provided treatment for his numerous individual symptoms.
“We knew that we had a very sick patient,” said Robert Cohen, the vet who treated Buddy at Bay Street.
However, the vet also added the clinic was only “peripherally involved in the [COVID-19] case in a lot of ways.”
The Mahoneys confirmed they never connected with experts or researchers involved in studying or treating the virus.
“If [health officials] had said, ‘Mahoney family, get in the car and come to [a veterinary lab],’ I would have done it,” Allison said. “Nobody even mentioned it.”
On July 11, Allison found Buddy throwing up clotted blood.
“It looked like it was his insides coming out,” she said. “We knew there was nothing that could be done for him from there.” Buddy was taken to the vet and euthanized later that day.
Making Buddy’s Voice Heard
The Mahoneys said that they were given an option between cremation and burial, but were never asked about an autopsy. While they opted for cremation, they say they would have consented to an autopsy if the option had been presented.
“I would have said, ‘Take whatever you need,’ because I don’t want any other dog to suffer like he did,” said Robert.
Blood work taken during Buddy’s final visit revealed that the dog also had lymphoma, which may explain some of his symptoms. Still, the Mahoneys strongly suspect that Buddy’s COVID-19 played a significant role in worsening his symptoms. Now, they’re calling for more research to prevent any more dog deaths relating to the disease.
“My pet was like my son,” said Allison Mahoney. “When he was passing away in front of me, he had blood all over his paws. I cleaned him up before we drove to the vet and stayed with him in the back seat. I said. ‘I will have your voice heard, for all our furry friends. Your voice will be heard, Buddy.'”