NEW YORK - Buddy the German Shepherd and the first dog in the United States to test positive for coronavirus has died.
The dog became infected in mid-April just before his seventh birthday. Six weeks later, on July 11, he was dead, according to National Geographic.
The Mahoney family of Staten Island tells the publication that bloodwork showed Buddy had lymphoma. It was unclear if cancer had made him more susceptible to contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 or if the virus had made him sick.
On June 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Buddy had contracted the virus after a member of the Mahoney family had tested positive. The dog was expected to make a full recovery.
“You tell people that your dog was positive, and they look at you [as if you have] ten heads,” Allison Mahoney told National Geographic. “[Buddy] was the love of our lives….He brought joy to everybody. I can’t wrap my head around it.”
Tigers at the Bronx Zoo, lions, cats, and dogs across the country have contracted coronavirus since the pandemic outbreak. About two dozens pets have had the virus compared to more than four million humans in the U.S.
Buddy's death highlights the little that is known about coronavirus in pets including whether animals with underlying health issues are more likely to get sick like humans.
Veterinarians say pet owners should follow the same social distancing and personal hygiene measures that doctors recommend for humans. Spend time with your own family pets, but stay away from others. Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
For more on this story, visit NatGeo.com.