No one can deny the benefits of animal companions, but Katie Spencer White’s Dec. 29 opinion piece about accepting animals from homeless shelters ignores an important fact: More than 10 percent of the population has pets. Allergic to. National Institutes of Health.
People with allergies should avoid airborne or surface contact with animal dander and saliva, which often remains after the animal is gone. Before an allergic person enters any living space, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and ventilated. So, if there are several animals at the shelter on any given day, what does the unfortunate homeless person with allergies do? They may try to tolerate the rash, cough, asthma, nasal congestion, etc., or stay out.
Most people who own animals are unaware of the problem or the degree to which allergies can affect a person’s life. When animals are brought into indoor public spaces such as pet-friendly restaurants, meeting places, or public transportation, people with animal allergies either develop symptoms or are forced to leave. Service animals are a necessity, but they should be isolated as much as possible. Pets do not belong in public enclosed indoor spaces that do not offer separate, enclosed pet-free areas.
Joseph L. Wolfson, MD