HARRISON — To Stephanie Mains’ dismay, cat owners have discarded their cats at her feline rescue organization out of incorrect worries that cats get and transmit COVID-19.

“We’re finding people are dumping their cats,” Mains of the Cat Coalition of Western Maine said.

“We have 10 more cats this year than last, she said. “They think COVID is caused by cats,” which is incorrect.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week during a biweekly briefing that pets are safe from getting and transmitting COVID-19.

Household pets “are not a risk of COVID,” Shah said. “I’m a dog lover myself.”

The CDC.gov website said the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low. In a small number of cases, the virus can be spread to fur after close contact with infected people, but the risk is low.

If someone in your household has the virus or has been exposed, keep your pets away as they quarantine “just as you would any member of your family,” Katie Lisnik of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society said.

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