Entering homes where the virus is believed to have been present can be nerve-racking, said Feraz Mohammed, an animal control officer at Animal Care Centers of NYC.

On one recent day, Mr. Mohammed drove to a South Bronx apartment building. A resident who had thought to have contracted the virus had been hospitalized; her dog and cat and had not had food for or water for five days.

Mr. Mohammed pulled on a mask, gloves and a Tysek-suit, meticulously sealing the openings around his wrists and ankles with tape.

Upstairs, a blond mop of a dog bounded out of the apartment, a blur of canine joy. Mr. Mohammed snapped a leash on the small dog and then went inside. He fished a tabby cat out from under the couch, and he cooed gently at two pets as he took them downstairs and locked them in cages in the truck.

''Oce we get them fed, get them water,'' he said, stroking the little dog's head,'' it makes me feel better about all of this.''

As a trained disaster responder, Dr. Robin Brennan was well versed in proper safety procedures when she entered a coronavirus patient's apartment on New York City's Upper West Side in late March. She pulled on plastic bootees, a face-mask and an eye shield.

The, with a gloved hand, she picked up the rest of her equipment : a five pound bag of cat kibble and a litter box.

The pandemic's devastating human toll in New York City has been well documented. But it has also affected people's lives in ways that have gotten less attention, including what happens to the pets of those who become seriously ill.

Dr. Brennen, a veterinarian at Animal care Centers of NYC, is part of a team of specialists who help the animal companions that have been left behind.

Across the city, animal specialists in full-body personal protective gear enter homes to feed, at no charge, famished pets whose owners have are hospitalized with the virus, or take custody of pets belonging to patients who do not return home.

For cats, which are susceptible to coronavirus infection, the city's standard strategy is essentially quarantine them in their homes for at least 14 days, with city animal specialists monitoring them. [It is unclear whether cats can pass the disease to humans].

On the Upper West Side that day in March, residents of the co-op building had alerted Dr. Brennan's organization that a woman who lived there was in intensive care battling the virus and that her two beloved cats had been left behind.

Dr. Brennen went in and fed them cats twice a week. ''I knew how much she wanted those cats and loved them,'' she said. And I wanted them to be there for her when she got home.''

The World Students Society thanks author Sarah Maslin Nir.


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