The novel coronavirus has infected more than hundreds of thousands around the globe. But it’s not just humans impacted by the spread of the pandemic.
Many animals in Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, have died or are at risk of dying after residents evacuated their homes in the wake of the lockdown, animal advocates have said.
“We know that many dogs and cats have been left behind in apartments in Wuhan, in particular, when residents were evacuated, but also in other areas such as Beijing, Dalian, Xi’an,” Wendy Higgins, director of international media at Humane Society International, told CNN.
“Estimates are impossible, but we do know that in Wuhan, for example, animal activists have assisted with animals in upwards of 1,000 apartments. So, the numbers nationwide will be significant.”
No Water or Food
The primary risk most animals face is an obvious one: starvation.
Residents who were forced to leave their pets behind typically left enough food and water to last them for a few days, thinking they would be able to return soon, some animal advocates told CNN.
But nearly a month after they evacuated, many residents have not returned home.
Vshine Animal Protection Association, a China-based animal welfare and environmental organization which partners with Humane Society International, estimated that the number of dogs and cats left behind in apartments in Hubei cities are in the tens of thousands.
“Things can get worse if the epidemic remains uncontrolled,” Deng Fang, chief of staff for Vshine Animal Protection Association, told CNN.
Many worried residents have contacted organizations like Vshine to ask employees to check in on their pets. Vshine has received at least 400 calls for help in the city of Dailan alone, and they have helped save at least 380 dogs and cats that were left behind, Fang said.