Pet cemetery: Why Shanghai health workers are going after dogs

Pet cemetery: Why Shanghai health workers are going after dogs

In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the health care officials are taking away pet dogs who are showing COVID symptoms.

As China faces an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases, a number of videos have emerged from its capital city, Shanghai, showing healthcare workers torturing dogs and cats.

In one of the harshest lockdowns, China's pursuit of "zero-Covid" means anyone who catches the virus is sent to central facilities, sometimes for weeks, leaving their pets at the mercy of local authorities.

Earlier this month, a video showed a health worker in Shanghai bludgeoning a corgi dog to death which caused uproar among netizens.

Why are the Chinese health workers torturing dogs?

In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the health care officials are taking away pet dogs who are showing COVID symptoms.

Pets of people who have been tested positive are getting collected in bags to be killed later, a Twitter user has claimed.

Another video showed a couple of PPE-clad healthcare workers loading a vehicle with dogs.

Another Twitter user posted a video in which officials are seen catching a dog in a net. It claimed that the officials captured the dog when its owner went out for a walk with his pet, flouting COVID restrictions.

Pet cemetery: Why Shanghai health workers are going after dogs
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This isn’t the first time that China is found using inhumane ways of curbing coronavirus. In January, Hong Kong culled around 2,000 hamsters after one tested positive for Covid-19, and at least three cats and a dog were among animals killed by health workers in the mainland last year.

What are the locals doing to save their pets?

As more and more videos emerged online, local residents have taken matters into their own hands.

According to a report by the Agence France-Presse, people have started forming networks of unpaid volunteers to rescue dogs and cats around Shanghai.

Erin Leigh, the main organiser of an emergency rescue service that has been formed to help pets who could otherwise become casualties of the hardline virus approach, has expanded her group from a pet-sitting firm to a network of thousands of unpaid volunteers.

"For some pets in the city, it comes down to life or death," said Leigh, adding that owners felt "helpless".

Across China, local governments' urgency to stamp out every virus case has pushed animal well-being down the list of authorities' priorities

After the recent video of the corgi killing, Leigh said she has been inundated with pleas from owners "desperate to get their animals saved".

As Shanghai officials ramped up control measures, Leigh and others mobilised online to share information about the pets left behind when people were taken into centralised quarantine.

A handful of administrators work day and night to record cases of distressed animals, classifying them by location and noting those that most urgently need food, shelter or other care.

The team has aided hundreds of cats and dogs -- plus a few birds, fish and snakes.

Evacuated pets must be steered through the often-baffling lockdown restrictions, sometimes travelling hours to reach short-term homes just a few streets away.

Rescuers this week spent an hour and a half transferring a dog from its owner's apartment to another block just 600 metres (0.4 miles) away, according to Leigh.

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