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Randi Kreiss

Dogs on Long Island get a leg up on Covid

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While many humans are still waiting in lines for the Covid-19 vaccine, an unusual initiative has put our four-legged friends at the head of the pack. And there’s a big payoff for their humans as well.

Canine Concerns, a small, privately financed nonprofit that advocates for dogs, received a one-time, $1.3 million grant from the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to immunize all dogs on Long Island against the coronavirus, beginning this week. It’s unclear why Long Island was chosen for the project, but dog ownership has skyrocketed over the past year, and our communities were designated a high priority for this effort.

It was reported in Newsday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking any positive publicity he can garner, has strongly pushed for this extraordinary “Project Woof Speed” to begin in New York. He was up against Sen. Ted Cruz, who was lobbying for the new canine vaccine to go to Texas. Cruz was hoping to neutralize his bad press from the temporary abandonment of his family dog, Snowflake, when he traveled to Cancun during the catastrophic Texas ice storm.

Even before landing the grant, Canine Concerns had tapped Wolf Pharmaceutical, in Buffalo, to produce the vaccine, which is in the form of a suppository. It will be given out for free (to be administered at home) at thousands of veterinarian offices in our area. They will be labeled “for canine use only,” and should not be used by humans. A deal was been brokered with Amazon to deliver the vaccine doses to Long Island veterinarians beginning on Monday, as we went to press. Individual pet owners may contact their veterinarians for pick-up information.

The terrific part of the plan is that when you pick up the single-dose vaccine, you receive a coupon for a free trip to Buffalo when travel becomes safe and available. Included are tickets to two outstanding visitor outings: “The Best of Buffalo, by Bike” and “Scavenger Hunt: Roaming Buffalo.” As part of the package, several Buffalo-area Marriott Hotels will allow dogs to stay for no charge during your visit. Proof of vaccination, human and canine, will be required.

There is little known about Covid transmission to other species, although a Malayan tiger tested positive last spring at the Bronx Zoo and has since recovered. The risk to dogs is exceedingly small, and transmission from a dog to a human has never been documented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, “A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes Covid-19, mostly after close contact with people with Covid-19.

“Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to people is considered to be low.

“It appears that the virus that causes Covid-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.

“Treat pets as you would other human family members — do not let pets interact with people outside the household.”

It has been reported in The New York Times that a number of high-profile individuals have gained early access to the dog vaccine to be sure their pets are protected. A friend of Ivanka Trump (she is currently living in Miami) reportedly said that Ms. Trump had scored two suppositories for her Chihuahuas, Barbie and Barbie. According to the same article, President Biden has secured vaccines for Major and Champ, although no one in the Biden circle felt comfortable administering the dose to Major after a recent minor biting incident.

In the trials of the Wolf Pharmaceutical vaccine, there were several side effects documented. In a small number of dogs, their barking pitch was elevated for several weeks, causing consternation for their owners but no other apparent problems for the pooches. Oddly, some 5 percent of inoculated dogs demonstrated enhanced cognitive ability in manipulating the pieces of dog puzzles to gain a food reward. There were two incidents of family dogs reversing day and night, making it difficult to rouse them for walks.

I plan to get the new vaccine for my darling Lillybee as soon as possible. I especially look forward to getting my free trip to Buffalo, since I have never visited Niagara Falls.

I may also go over the falls in a barrel. If you believe that, then you probably believed the rest of this column. Happy April Fools’ 2021.

Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.