NOTE: This story contains disturbing details of violence against an animal. Please read at your own discretion.
Video footage of a dog being killed by COVID-19 prevention workers in China has sparked outrage after a clip showing the incident went viral on Chinese social media.
A woman claiming to be the owner of the dog posted the video to the Chinese social media site Weibo last Friday.
In the video post, which has been viewed by Global News and has since been taken down, a small corgi is woken up by two workers entering the apartment. The corgi cowers underneath a table as the workers discuss the dog’s fate.
“Did the leader say we need to settle it right here on the spot?” a worker dressed in full hazmat suit can be heard asking. “Yes,” the other replies, before striking the dog on the head with a crowbar. The dog whimpers and runs off-camera. Later, the two workers are seen returning to screen, carrying something in a yellow plastic bag — presumably the dog.
The dog’s owner, CNN reports, was undergoing mandatory quarantine in a nearby hotel in the Chinese city of Shangrao, in southeastern Jiangxi province. Several people in her building tested positive for the virus, but she later tested negative.
The woman, who was watching through a security camera installed in her apartment, tried to negotiate with the workers through the camera’s microphone feature, pleading them to stop. They told her they were just following orders.
Local authorities confirmed via press release that the dog had been killed as part of disinfection measures, but admitted they did so “without adequate communication” with the dog’s owner. They assured that the dog had been “disposed of harmlessly.”
“Absolutely shocking, heartbreaking, and totally brutal,” Ashley Fruno, a spokesperson with PETA, told CNN of the video.
“There is no justifiable reason why this should ever be done to a companion animal.”
The dog’s death has sparked outrage over the Chinese government’s treatment of animals as part of their zero-COVID strategy. An outbreak of Delta variant cases across the country has the government scrambling to curb infections with massive contact-tracing efforts, citywide lockdowns and compulsory quarantines.
Shanghai Disneyland was shut down earlier this month, and 34,000 people were tested, after one person tested positive for the virus.
Some quarantine hotels in China’s biggest cities allow pets to accompany their owners, but that’s not always the case in many smaller cities and towns, and many people are forced to abandon their animals in their rush to isolate. There have been previous reports of animal deaths at the hands of disease prevention workers.
In September, a woman reported that her three cats were killed while she was away from her home in quarantine. And authorities in the cities of Chengdu and Wuxi have also killed cats after entering private residences, NPR reports.
The VCA Animal Hospitals website says COVID-19 can occur in pets, but “these cases are uncommon and appear to occur after exposure to infected human family members.”
And while there have been cases reported of mink spreading the virus to humans on farms in the Netherlands and Denmark, the World Organization for Animal Health says there have been no reported animal-to-human transmission cases linked to pets.