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    Chinese Netizens Angry After Quarantine Staff Kills Pet Dog

    Experts are calling for a national guideline to handle pets of individuals who test positive for the coronavirus or are suspected of infection.

    A quarantine staff in the eastern Jiangxi province brutally killing a pet dog owned by an individual undergoing coronavirus-related isolation at a separate facility has been condemned by both officials and the public.

    Officials at a subdistrict in the city of Shangrao said the on-site staff conducted “non-hazardous treatment” on the corgi without “sufficient communication” with the pet owner, according to a statement Saturday. They said the staff in question had been removed from their post and the pet owner accepted an official apology.

    On Friday, the staff member assigned with quarantine-related duties had reportedly entered an apartment and killed the corgi using an iron rod. In a now-deleted post that has since gone viral on microblogging site Weibo, the pet owner had confirmed with local epidemic prevention staff that the dog would be unharmed before she was moved to a quarantine hotel.

    “As a pet owner, this has caused me extreme psychological and physical discomfort and a strong sense of insecurity and fear,” one user commented in a different post with screenshots of the government’s statement.

    In September, local authorities in the northeastern city of Harbin were also criticized after they euthanized three cats owned by a COVID-19 patient after the pets also tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, in Shangrao, the dog owner and her family had tested negative for COVID-19, and there was no evidence that the dog was infected, local media reported Saturday.

    Li Hui, director of the animal protection organization in the city of Yichang, central Hubei province, told Sixth Tone that it is “unacceptable” to forcefully kill pets whose owners were in quarantine at a different location. She said such actions were “cruel and inhumane.”

    “If pets can be killed simply under the suspicion of COVID-19 infection, should the suspicious human cases also be killed?” Li said, calling for a national policy addressing the quarantine of pets. “The epidemic prevention staff need to change the way they think about pets. The government can outsource the service of pets’ quarantine to qualified foster care and animal protection centers for appropriate treatment.”

    While there is no national guideline on handling pets of people who test positive for COVID-19 or are suspected of possible infections, cities have introduced local measures. While Shanghai allows residents to take their pets to quarantine hotels, Beijing has set up special quarantine facilities for pets, and Guangzhou has deployed people to feed the left-behind animals at home.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: Left: A photo of the corgi; right: A screenshot shows quarantine staff trying to grab the corgi. From Weibo)