Coronavirus: Thousands of abandoned pets 'at risk of starving to death

Thousands of pets trapped in the epicenter of China's deadly coronavirus outbreak are at risk of starving to death, according to animal rescuers and activists.

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The warning comes as campaigners claim local governments have called for pet dogs and cats to be culled, due to discredited concerns they can be infected with the illness that began in the Hubei province city of Wuhan.

Wuhan's mayor, Zhou Xianwang, recently told a news conference five million people had left his city ahead of the Chinese New Year.

Based on this figure, one man on the frontline of the rescue effort to save abandoned animals has estimated up to 50,000 pets have been left in Wuhan's homes.

These puppies were rescued in Zhengzhou, in Central China’s Henan province, from fear of the Wuhan illness. They were abandoned at a deserted construction site, spotted by locals who appealed for help on social media and the puppies are now in the care of one of Humane Society InternationaI’s Chinese partner group. The puppies are doing fine and are receiving vet attention. Credit: Humane Society international
Image:These puppies were rescued in Zhengzhou, Henan province. Pic: Humane Society International

 

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"My conservative estimate is that around 5,000 are still trapped, and they may die of starvation in the coming days," said Lao Mao, not his real name.

 

"The volunteers on our team, me included, have saved more than 1,000 pets since 25 January".

Mr Mao told reporters how he broke into one home - at the request of its owners - to feed two starving cats that had been trapped inside for 10 days.

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