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No pet left behind in China's epidemic fight

(Xinhua)    10:03, February 07, 2020

CHANGSHA, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Humans are not the only species suffering from the novel coronavirus outbreak, as animals have been hit hard as well. The ongoing epidemic has caught many pet owners in China unprepared, and even separated them from their beloved four-legged friends.

Two days ago, a young woman using the screen name "Miss UniqueHW" posted a message on the Weibo account of the small animal protection association of Changsha: "Please save my dog (a 9-kg black poodle). The poor thing has been locked at home for 15 days. I'm very concerned."

Miss UniqueHW lives in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. She was trapped in her rural hometown due to epidemic control measures.

"Dog food is likely to have run out. I don't know whether it has died or not. I love my dog. Please help me," she wrote.

The association soon launched an initiative, calling for volunteers in Changsha to offer food and water to pets that had been left at home by their owners.

In just a few hours, messages poured in to the association's WeChat and Weibo accounts. "I live near the neighborhood and can look after the dog," said a volunteer. "I'm downtown and can help take care of pets in need," said another.

With the location information provided by Miss UniqueHW, volunteers found the poodle safe and sound. They fed the dog food and water and took it for a walk.

"I'm very grateful for what they did. My dog is safe and in good condition. I hope to be a volunteer myself to pass on the love and hope," Miss UniqueHW said.

The small animal protection association of Wuhan has also been sending volunteers to help left-behind pets since Jan. 27 when the traffic in and out of the city was suspended.

"We visited 300 homes in six days, and there are 400 more pets to visit," said a volunteer with the association. "Without food and water, most pets won't last a week. We must hurry."

Inspired by Wuhan, the Changsha branch launched its own initiative, receiving a number of help-seeking messages.

According to the association, volunteers are required to take protective measures before visiting pets. With the consent of pet owners, they can contact lock companies or landlords to open doors, and film the whole rescue process.

Over 70 pets have been successfully rescued in Changsha as of Wednesday.

In the meantime, the story of a baby golden retriever and its window-to-window neighbor in another building in south China's Guangdong Province warmed the hearts of many Chinese netizens.

In a short video filmed by the neighbor, she noticed the dog whining through the open window, and fed the dog using a long stick with meat attached to the end of it. She cut open a plastic bottle, filled it with water and hung it on the stick as well.

Her video generated a large number of views, and many left comments offering advice. Soon she learned that the owner had been stuck in Wuhan for a week.

But thankfully, the neighbor reached the dog owner, who asked a relative to check on the dog and send it to a pet center.

Similar stories have been posted and reposted by Chinese netizens in recent days.

"I was moved to tears by what those people did for those animals. They offer me comfort and confidence at such a difficult time," said a WeChat user under the golden retriever story.

At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Shi Shi, a volunteer in Changsha, came back home after a busy day. She has driven about 40 km back and forth daily for the past few days.

The association has set up several WeChat groups for pet owners to "place orders" and volunteers to "take orders" based on the principle of proximity.

"I wear masks, gloves and a raincoat as a protective suit, and bring disinfectant when I go out," Shi said.

After entering a pet owner's apartment, she found the house was a mess, and the dog she was supposed to help was starving.

"The dog was cute and obedient. It was drooling at the mouth but still waited for my order to eat," she said.

Although volunteers were only asked to feed the pets, Shi couldn't help doing some cleaning, for she wanted the dog to stay in a clean environment.

"Their grateful eyes are the best reward," she said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Liang Jun)

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