Animal-rescuers strive to aid stranded pets amidst epidemic
When Lu Yufan, a college student in Zhejiang Province, was swiping through the video-sharing app "Tik Tok" during the Spring Festival holiday, a video caught his attention.
The heroine of the video is a woman surnamed Xu. She is seen extending a clothesline pole tied with a sausage out of her window toward a golden retriever in the opposite apartment. The dog, lying on the window sill, seems weak and hungry and ate the sausage right away.
The video, however, has drawn criticism from netizens. "How can you feed other people's dogs without the owner's permission?" "I'm just trying to help," replied Xu.
The sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus during the Spring Festival holiday has hit humans and animals alike. Many pet owners have returned home, thousands of miles away, and are unable to make it back in time due to temporary traffic controls to curb the spread of the virus.
Xu, in Guangzhou, first saw the golden retriever on Jan. 24, Chinese New Year's Eve. Three days later, she found the dog still there, but much weaker.
"I suddenly began to suspect that perhaps the dog's owner was stuck somewhere and the dog must be out of food," said Xu.
The windowsill, along with the dog, is about a meter away from Xu's flat. She attached sausages and bottled water to a pole and then passed them to the dog.
Xu tried hard to contact the owner. After leaving a message calling for help at the entrance of the apartment building, she finally received some information from the property management staff.
The owner is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Wuhan has been locked down, with outbound channels closed just before the Lunar New Year, preventing the dog's owner from returning. After learning of the situation of his dog, the dog owner asked the landlord to open his door.
The pet was rescued and taken to a nearby pet center.
Similar scenes are playing out in cities and counties across the nation. In the city of Dongguan, an Alaskan malamute is locked in a yard and was lucky to live next to a young lady who prepares small meals for the dog every day.
And even animals at the zoo are having a hard time. The Wuhan Zoo said days ago that due to traffic controls, the zoo had been running short of fodder and had to request donations from the public.
Luckily, volunteers have taken action. The small animal protection association of Wuhan announced in late January that it can help rescue and feed stranded pets for free with authorization from the owners. The association's Changsha branch also launched an initiative to help left-behind pets.
"As a 13-year-old association in Wuhan, we are grateful for all kinds of support the city has given us. And it is our responsibility and pride to repay that support in any way we can," said the association's Wuhan branch in a statement.