The murder of a companion dog whose owners were in quarantine has sparked outrage on Chinese social media and raised questions about the extreme measures taken by health officials to tackle a continuing outbreak of Delta.
A resident of Shangrao, Jianxi Province on Friday posted allegations on Weibo that her pet dog was beaten to death by health workers inside her apartment while in quarantine in a hotel that prohibited animals. In a video allegedly from his apartment security camera posted online, one of the two people wearing PPE is shown hitting the dog with what looks like a crowbar.
Shangrao City authorities apologized on Saturday evening for failing to contact the dog’s owner and said the worker in question had been removed from his post. He claimed that the dog had been treated with “harmless treatment”.
The notice said people in quarantine were supposed to leave their apartment doors open for quarantine, but hers had been locked. With the help of the police, the workers gained access to his apartment and discovered the dog.
A hashtag linked to the response has been viewed approximately 210 million times. Commentators questioned the suggestion that the worker acted without authority and also criticized censorship of online posts about the incident.
“Without the instructions from the leaders above, who would dare to force open the door and kill the dog?” said one.
This follows a similar case earlier this month when cats belonging to a Chengdu resident quarantined as close contact were euthanized. The animals had not been tested for the virus.
After the cat case, An Xiang, director of a Beijing law firm, said on Weibo that the science regarding the infection of pets was inconclusive. “Emergency measures such as hunting and killing should not be taken… The competent unit has no evidence to prove that these animals were infected. “
In September, Harbin officials were accused of overreacting when they euthanized three cats who returned positive readings for the virus while their owner was in hospital.
The cases have caused waves of fear among pet owners and confusion among local authorities about laws and official processes, the South China Morning Post reported. Local media noted earlier measures to take care of the animals while owners were quarantined. As China pursues a zero Covid strategy and battles a stubborn Delta variant outbreak, the criteria for quarantining people have broadened.
There is no conclusive research on the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from pets to their owners. Advice from various national centers for disease control is that a Covid patient should be isolated from both people and animals.
In July, the BBC reported that a study by researchers at Utrecht University found rates of up to 18% of Covid in animals belonging to patients, but that the most common route of transmission likely was from man to animal. No case of animal infecting an owner has been recorded.