The killing of a quarantined dog has sparked outrage on Chinese social media, raising questions about extreme measures health officials are taking to combat an ongoing Delta outbreak.
On Friday, a resident of Shangrao, Jianxi Province posted allegations on Weibo that her dog was beaten to death by health workers in her home while she was quarantined in a hotel that does not allow animals. One of two people wearing PPE is shown hitting the dog with a crowbar in a video allegedly taken from her home’s security camera posted online.
Shangrao city authorities on Saturday evening apologized for not communicating with the dog’s owner, saying the worker in question had been fired from the role. It was alleged that the dog had been treated with “harmless treatment”.
The notice said people in quarantine should leave their apartment doors open for quarantine, but hers was locked. With the help of the police, the workers broke into her home and discovered the dog.
A hashtag related to the answer was viewed around 210 million times. Commentators questioned the presumption that the worker acted without authority and also criticized the censorship of online posts about the incident.
“Who would dare to break open the door and kill the dog without the instructions of the above mentioned leaders?” Said one.
A similar case follows earlier this month when cats of a Chengdu resident who had been quarantined as a 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 of pet infection is inconclusive. “Emergency measures such as hunting and killing should not be taken … The competent authority has no evidence that these pets are infected.”
In September, Harbin officials were accused of overreacting when they euthanized three cats that had returned positive results for the virus while their owner was in the hospital.
The cases have sparked waves of fear among pet owners and confusion among local authorities about laws and official procedures, the South China Morning Post reported. Local media noted previous measures taken to care for the animals while the owners were quarantined. With China pursuing a zero-covid strategy and fighting a persistent outbreak of the Delta variant, the criteria for quarantining people have expanded.
There is no conclusive research into the risk of Covid-19 transmission from pets to their owners. The advice of various national disease control centers is that a Covid patient should be isolated from both humans and animals.
In July, the BBC reported that a study by researchers from Utrecht University found rates of up to 18% of Covid in animals belonging to patients, but that the most likely route of transmission was from humans to animals. No case has been recorded of a pet infecting an owner.