As news breaks that Hong Kong dog died, Chinese animal groups sign open letter urging pet owners, officials not to abandon or cull dogs in response to coronavirus

Humane Society International / Global

WASHINGTON – Sixty-five animal charities and pet shelters from across China have signed an open letter calling for compassion rather than cruelty to dogs and cats, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. News that an elderly dog in Hong Kong belonging to a COVID-19 patient has died following weeks of quarantine and testing, has raised fears of an increase in pet abandonment. Although the dog ultimately tested negative, and the World Health Organisation has made clear there is no evidence that dogs can infect humans, animal groups across China remain vigilant, with some shelters reporting higher than usual numbers of animals found wandering the streets.

Groups in Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, and beyond have appealed for people not to abandon or harm their pets, and urge local police forces and community officers not to carry out lethal culls of dogs. Last month there were a number of recorded incidents of dogs being brutally beaten to death in the street in Yongjia County, Zhejiang, and in Chengdu and Nanchong in Sichuan province. And most recently video emerged of a pet dog being roughly caught by the neck by local dog catchers outside a Shanghai apartment block, and swung through the air into a cage on the back of a truck. The local government in Shanxi, north China has also called for the closure of all pet hospitals and public dog walking.

Dr. Peter Li, China policy expert at Humane Society International which works in China alongside other animal groups to protect companion animals, said: “It is very sad news that the elderly dog in Hong Kong has passed away. It must be remembered though that he ultimately tested negative for the virus, showed no signs of illness at any point, and at 17 years old it is possible that the stress of weeks of quarantine, testing, and being separated from his owner contributed to his passing. We simply don’t know, but what we do know is that the World Health Organisation advice is clear that there is no evidence dogs can pass the virus to people. It is critical that citizens and officials alike do not over-react or respond in a way that will cause harm or injury to animals. Family pets do not deserve to be turned out on the street, or beaten, or denied exercise or access to veterinary care.”

Dezhi Yu, director of Vshine, said: “Our team has been responding to help calls from different cities where local animal lovers have taken in or have spotted abandoned dogs and cats which we suspect were not allowed to be kept in their apartments, or these might be dogs or cats released by the breeders.”

HSI has been a resource for Chinese groups in coordinating public education efforts since the COVID-19 virus broke out, as well as supporting HSI’s Chinese partner group Vshine in rescuing abandoned dogs, as well as providing food and water for dogs and cats left behind when people have been evacuated and not able to return.

Download photos and video of HSI and other groups in China assisting companion animals:






Media contact:

Wendy Higgins


List of letter signatories:

Signed by:

  1. Capital Animal Welfare Association
  2. Bengbu Abandoned Animal Protection Association
  3. Dalian Vshine Animal Protection Association
  4. Social law research center of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University
  5. Animal protection research center of Shandong university
  6. Taiwan Life Caring and Animal Rescue Organization
  7. Cat and Dog 119
  8. Life Caring and Animal Rescue Organization Companion
  9. Wenzhou Happyness Work Center
  10. Red Pomegranate Stray Animal Rescue Center
  11. Miao Stray Cat Rescue Team
  12. Kuntun Small Animal Protection Association
  13. Shenyang Micro Couplet Pet Love and rescue alliance
  14. Beijing Warm House Rescue Center
  15. Changsha Animal Protection Association
  16. Zhuzhou Small Animal Protection Association
  17. Xian Small Animal Protection Association
  18. Huaibei Small Animal Protection Association
  19. Suzhou Tiantian- Baby House
  20. Xian 701 Stray Animal Shelter
  21. Qin Huangdao Small Animal Protection Association
  22. Xian Weiai Animal Protection Association
  23. Changsha Small Animal Protection Association
  24. Nantong Small Animal Protection Association
  25. Hohhot Small Animal Protection Association
  26. Harbin Small Animal Protection Association
  27. Mudanjiang Animal Protection Volunteers Association
  28. Dalian Love Animal Rescue Association
  29. Haimen Animal Protection Volunteers Association
  30. Foshan Companion animal Protection Association
  31. Zhenzhou Animal Protection Association
  32. Changchun Douwang Team
  33. Lanzhou Stray Animal Reacue Station
  34. Guilin Baby Home Stray Animal Welfare Station
  35. Jilin Small Love Stray Animal Adopt Home
  36. Liuzhou Hope Home Small Animal Protection Association
  37. Dog’s Love Group
  38. Jilin Small Love Stray Animal Rescue Center
  39. Huludao Stray Animal Center
  40. Xinjiang Changji Wangwang’s Home
  41. Gansu Pingliang Stray Dog Rescue Center
  42. Nanjing University of the Arts
  43. Sanmenxia Stray Cat Rescue Team
  44. China Pet Animal Protection Public Welfare Team
  45. 803 Ecology and Animal Protection Public Welfare Team
  46. Hohhot Qishan Animal Welfare Association
  47. Jilin Puai Action Group
  48. Jianghai Stray Animal Rescue Center
  49. Hohhot dog rescue
  50. Tianjin Yishan Stray Animal Rescue Team
  51. Lanzhou Stray Animal Love Relay Station
  52. Inner Mongolia Alxa Stray Animal Rescue Station
  53. Yantai Stray Animal Rescue Station
  54. Xi ‘an Stray Animal Protection Station
  55. Qiqihar Small Animal Protection Association
  56. Qinghai Xining Small Animal Protection Association
  57. Xining Small Animal Protection Association
  58. Urumqi Outdoor Rescue Group
  59. Zhuhai Stray Animal Rescue Group
  60. Xian Stray Animal Rescue Group
  61. Pinggu Rescue Team
  62. Zhengzhou Rescue Group
  63. Guangdong Stray Dog Rescue Center
  64. Xining Stray Animal Rescue Team
  65. Baotou Stray Animal Rescue Center

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