Animals being abandoned as China battles the coronavirus outbreak

International

Dogs found abandoned in a box in Wuhan by rescuers from Furry Angels Heaven. Credit: BBC

Volunteers in China say they’re struggling to keep up with the number of animals being abandoned as the country battles the virus outbreak.

Pet owners who fall sick or are caught up in quarantine can’t take their animals with them, and despite reassurance from the World Health Organization that animals can’t carry the virus, others are being dumped.

“I have rescued lots of dogs this month, most have been abandoned by their owners,” one volunteer from Furry Angels Heaven in Wuhan, told the BBC.

The coronavirus outbreak began in late December, but it worsened as people went away for Chinese New Year in January. Many people went to visit family in other cities, leaving food behind for their pets thinking they would only be away for a few days.

Then the lockdown was introduced and more than 60 million people in Hubei province were placed under travel restrictions. People were unable to return to their homes and the food they had left for their pets had started to run out.

One volunteer, who gave his name as Lao Mao, is part of a group that provides assistance to people who cannot access their animals. So far his group has helped to rescue more than 1,000 pets.

“There are more animals needing help these days,” he told the BBC.

He said that the situation now for animals is “very dangerous”.

“So many of them have starved to death, only a few of them can reach me for help. There’s nothing much I can do but I will save as many as I can.”

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