Updated: Nov 22
Could there be a silver lining?
Ms Fu, a resident of the Shangrao neighborhood in China’s Jiangxi province, was forced to quarantine because her community was designated as a Covid-19 controlled area due to a handful of positive cases. While isolated in a hotel that did not allow pets, Ms Fu watched via her apartment’s security camera as covid prevention workers broke into her apartment in order to sanitize it.
Ms Fu had been assured that nothing would happen to her beloved corgi but in a video that now has millions of views, the city employees are seen striking the cowering dog in the head with an iron bar. Ms Fu, who has tested negative for Covid-19, is said to have received an apology along with the assurance that the 2 workers had been removed from their jobs.
The act of cruelty ignited an outcry on China’s social media platforms. Of course, many of the comments on Weibo — China’s version of Twitter — are about the brutal treatment of the little dog. It’s shocking. Many other responses have to do with the disregard for the private property of Chinese citizens. The feeling is that the killing of a pet dog is just one example of the government’s infringement on individual rights in the name of virus containment.
This BBC article includes some of the most liked posts on Weibo:
"Who gave them the right to break into her home and kill her dog?"
"Pets are an owner's private property and they cannot be culled without permission! Even if culling is necessary, there needs to be a solid, scientific basis for it!"
Another Weibo comment from China’s Observer Network includes language from Article 39 of the Chinese Constitution. It says, “the residences of citizens of the People's Republic of China are inviolable. It is prohibited to illegally search or invade the residences of citizens.” Another constitutional article cited says, ”‘legal property is protected by law, and any organization is prohibited from personal encroachment, looting, or destruction."
Seizing on the moment, the Changzhi Animal Protection Association has initiated legal proceedings against Shangrao City. The Observer reports that He Qian, president of the animal welfare group, said that “the reason for initiating public interest litigation, again and again, is to look forward to one day when animal protection legislation is on the agenda.”
He Qian says that there are additional challenges due to China’s Animal Epidemic Prevention Law. She told the Chinese Philanthropist that, “if the lawsuit is not filed, it will be difficult to attract the attention of the relevant parties. More and more places will follow suit, thinking that killing these companion animals is a matter of course.” Supporting her concern are actions taken by other local governments including the euthanization of 3 untested cats in Harbin while their owner was in quarantine.
Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, the reaction — in China and around the world — shows that people expect rational, respectful, compassionate responses from their leaders even in the midst of an epidemic.
Fact: the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s stance is that there is no evidence that animals have played a significant role in the spread of Covid-19 to humans.