NEWS AND COMMENT-SHANGHAI, CHINA: A surge in Omicron Covid-19 infections in Shanghai has resulted in a zero-tolerance lockdown across the entire city. This is the policy that the authorities in China impose on their citizens when Covid infections increase. It is a very severe reaction particularly as the Omicron variant of Covid is treated as a cold in Great Britain. In fact, British doctors sometimes can’t tell the difference between a person with Omicron Covid and a common cold because the symptoms are so mild. And sometimes the infected person is asymptomatic i.e. without symptoms.
Note: the major source for this news is CNN and they say the reporting has yet to be independently verified although it looks very genuine.
Notwithstanding this background information, Shanghai’s residents are going through a nightmare based on the reports that I have read on CNN and other websites.
The cruel treatment both to people and their pets is highlighted in the story of a corgi. The corgi’s owner tested positive for Covid. She was asymptomatic. She was carted off to an isolation facility. Despite her best efforts she was unable to make arrangements for someone to look after her corgi. She tried to take her dog with her but men in hazmat suits wrestled her beloved pet from her and killed her dog on the street with a shovel. Can you believe it?! The animal cruelty is astonishing. The event was recorded on video and it hit the social media networks before being deleted. It caused uproar.
The woman who filmed the killing of the corgi silently said to herself, “You are so cruel”. It seems remarkable that this is allowed to happen because the dog wasn’t even tested. They don’t know whether the dog had contracted the disease or not. Why not place the animals in quarantine and test them?
There have been very few cases of companion animals contracting Covid even when they live with a person who had caught the disease. The authorities should at least have the decency to run some tests. It shows a complete disdain for the sentience of companion animals and the emotional connection that they have with their human caregivers. It is, indeed, state-sanctioned animal cruelty and is reflective of the fact that there are no general animal welfare and protection laws in China. How can China truly integrate into the modern world without animal welfare laws?
And the report is that this kind of incident is not uncommon. It’s a consequence of China’s zero-Covid policy. In response to this animal cruelty, the citizens of Shanghai have developed a network of rescue organisations to get their pets out of their homes and into the homes of pet sitters before they are forced to go into quarantine.
In another example of animal cruelty but of a different kind, a cat owner who was forced to go into a quarantine facility. She left her cat behind in her apartment with food and water (a fairly common scenario). The cat became sick and died of dehydration. Her cat was discovered by an organisation who call themselves ‘Spare Leash’. The CEO of Spare Leash, Erin Leigh, said: “She suddenly got sick and died of dehydration. I think she went seven to 10 days without water. A lot of people have a feeding machine as a backup but sometimes they break. It’s crazy.”
Her organisation makes arrangements to take pets from homes where their owner has to go into quarantine, and place them with pet sitters. They are being inundated with calls. Sometimes pet owners tie their cat or dog to a tree near their apartment and then contact the organisation to collect them. Or they leave the animal in a crate outside their apartment for him or her to be picked up.
However, Spare Leash, have to negotiate with the authorities to allow them to retrieve the animal. And only certain vehicles are allowed on the roads because of the zero-tolerance lockdown. Fortunately, a pet taxi company, Paw Paw, is authorised to drive around Shanghai. This company is able to take the pets to a pet sitter. But it takes a lot of organisation, apparently, and push and shove to get the authorities to agree.
The pet owner and the operators of Spare Leash have to arrange a contactless handover. In other words, it has to be carried out without the person who has Covid coming into contact with the animal rescue organisation’s operative.
State-authorised animal cruelty of this nature is not unique to Shanghai. It is also reported that on Wednesday, March 30, the Anci District of Langfang City northern China ordered the culling of indoor animals who live with a person who tested positive for Covid. The order was subsequently rescinded on the same day but it seems likely that a number of pets were killed under this order.
When the story about the “murder” of the corgi went viral on social media, Shenzhen, a large municipality to the north, established a Pet Care Centre to provide pet sitting services for owners who had to enter quarantine. The news got around and this big conurbation decided to take proactive steps to try and minimise such examples of animal cruelty.
It isn’t just pets that are suffering, there is a video made by CNN of a man shouting in the street to officials. He threw away all caution of possible arrest the authorities. He shouted that he couldn’t earn money any more. He couldn’t pay his mortgage and he had reached a point of desperation in his life where he could take no more. Another consequence of China’s over-the-top zero-tolerance Covid policy.