Sixty-five animal charities and pet shelters across China recently signed an open letter urging citizens to not abandon or harm their pets during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, after news of an elderly dog in Hong Kong belonging to a coronavirus patient died, there were a number of recorded incidents of dogs being brutally beaten to death in Yongjia County, Zhejiang, and in Chengdu and Nanchong in Sichuan province. And, most recently, a video emerged of a companion dog being roughly caught by the neck by local dog catchers outside a Shanghai apartment block and swung through the air into a cage on the back of a truck. Some shelters have also reported higher than usual numbers of animals found wandering the streets.
“It is very sad news that the elderly dog in Hong Kong has passed away,” Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media at Humane Society International, said. “It must be remembered though that he ultimately tested negative for the virus, showed no signs of illness throughout, and at 17 years old it is possible that the stress of weeks of quarantine, testing, and being separated from his owner, contributed to his passing. We simply don’t know, but what we do know is that the World Health Organisation advice is clear that there is no evidence dogs can pass the virus to people.”
Humane Society International (HSI) has been supporting Chinese groups in coordinating public education efforts since COVID-19 broke out, as well as helping HSI’s Chinese partner group Vshine in rescuing abandoned dogs and providing food and water for dogs and cats left behind when people have been evacuated and not able to return.