The coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread rapidly since it was discovered in the Chinese province of Wuhan at the end of 2019. More and more countries are taking precautionary measures, and some have even been on lockdown entirely.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, public concern about the way animals are being treated in the world, is rising. Here you find the latest updates on the developments of the virus from an animal point of view.
India has entered a three-week lockdown. Animal rights activists fear that stray animals won’t survive these weeks and are trying to feed and help these animals. But people who give food to stray animals, are being harassed and sometimes attacked by residents.
“Most RWA members (residents) WhatsApp-forward nuts who believe animals spread coronavirus. They don’t want anything to do with feeding the animals,” Delhi based animal feeder Rukmini Sekhar told News18.
“I have found stray dogs that are restless and run from one place to another in search for food. Some of my regular dogs are missing, as I couldn’t go out for three days. We don’t have enough volunteers or resources to cover each area,” animal lover Monami Dutta says to Outlook. She starts her day feeding 80 stray animals in Delhi.
Another problem is the food supply. Dog and cat food are running out in stores. People also feel that India’s prime minister Modi should stress his message of caring for animals in these times more.
Animal lovers in Greece are worried about stray animals. The animal welfare organization Dog’s Voice has set up a website where people can sign up to volunteer to feed dogs. Within three days, 80 people signed up.
Animal advocates are checking if pet store owners in India have not left their animals inside their shops during the three-week lockdown that started yesterday. Animal rights organizations in the country fear the animals will starve to death if they’re left alone in cages with no care for three weeks.
Animal rights advocate Maneka Gandhi has urged animal welfare workers and citizens in India to feed animals during the lockdown: “Street dogs, cows and birds can neither get nor give the coronavirus to humans. However, in the event of a lockdown, if they are not fed, many will die, creating another kind of serious problem.”
Animals Asia has delivered over 6 tons of cat and dog food to Wuhan, the city where the virus was first discovered. During the period that Wuhan was in quarantine, many animals were affected and it was hard to get dog and cat food into the area. The Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association is distributing the food to over 20 animal shelters and groups.
With no tourism in Thailand, elephant camps are struggling to feed and care for their elephants. The founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, visit camps in Thailand, trying to convince owners to let their elephant roam free. The foundation also offers to help with food and medicine. She posted this video of a camp in Thailand with over 70 elephants chained and extremely stressed.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), China has put bear bile on a list of recommended coronavirus treatments.
Bile or gall is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. The process of getting bile from a bear is extremely cruel. Animals organizations in Asia have been trying to shut down bear bile farms for years.
Aron White, EIA wildlife campaigner and China specialist, said: “Restricting the eating of wildlife while promoting medicines containing wildlife parts exemplifies the mixed messages being sent by Chinese authorities on wildlife trade.” The World Health Organization has said there’s no cure for the virus.
With borders closing in Europe, animal advocacy organization Eurogroup for the Animals, together with 35 animal protection organizations, calls on the European Commission to take immediate action. Last week trucks with live animals on board were refused at borders or waiting in long queues, which caused animals to suffer. Some even died.
In this corona crisis where the safety of animals can’t be guaranteed during transport, animal welfare organizations ask for an immediate ban for all exports by land and sea to non-EU countries and journeys that take longer than 8 hours. They stress that in this crisis, neither veterinarians or police can check if animal welfare rules are being followed.
🇳🇱🚛🐮 #COVID19: @_NVWA stresses that #LiveTransport should be suspended whenever transporters think they can’t comply with the #EU law (https://t.co/jZL4cwGbNy).— Eurogroup For Animals (@Act4AnimalsEU) March 23, 2020
⚠️We call on MS to urgently suspend live transport to avoid unnecessary suffering to the animals! ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/Xpm3w3Kka4
Stopping animal abuse will prevent future pandemics, according to Aysha Akhtar, neurologist and public health specialist and a Commander in the US Public Health Service. “Three-fourths of emerging human infectious diseases come from animals. If we want to prevent these diseases, we have to face the inevitable and uncomfortable truth: the real culprit is how we choose to relate with and treat animals.”
“Just as humans are more likely to succumb to disease when we are stressed, weakened or wounded, these same factors also suppress the immune systems in animals, leaving them extremely vulnerable to catching new infections. As a result, the worldwide animal trade creates very sick animals and ideal conditions for pathogens to multiply and jump from animal to animal, and ultimately to humans,” she says.
“To prevent the next pandemic, we need to look beyond the wet markets or illegal trade in China. The entire, global trade in animals needs to stop. A virus doesn’t care if it’s being transmitted through the illegal or legal trade.”
The Companion Animal Alliance in Louisiana, United, States, had to close for three weeks starting Monday. On Sunday, they put out a ‘HELP’ post on Facebook asking people to open their homes for pets during the lockdown. Luckily, within a day all 127 dogs found a temporary home.
ALERT! CAA must close at 5 today to comply with the new ordinance. EMERGENCY FOSTERS are needed to clear out the shelter. Come get a new quarantine buddy! pic.twitter.com/dtBVGhbT68— Bess Casserleigh (@BCasserleigh) March 23, 2020
All bullfighting events in March are canceled in Spain, most likely they will also be canceled in April. The city Sevilla is not allowing any fights till September. Bullfighting events that were planned in France, Portugal and Mexico will also not take place. What will happen to the bulls is unclear.
Animal shelters can’t handle the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. Fewer animals are getting adopted and shelters are working with less staff. An animal shelter in Australia, RSCPA SA, said it’s facing a possible shutdown. Paul Stevenson from RSCPA SA said the organization needs to reduce the number of animals in its care. “This virus is impacting on multiple fronts, leaving us with more animals and less people and funds to care. Our animal operations are at a critical point”, he told the Australian channel 7News.
“There is certainly concern because there’s a backlog of shelter animals. Animals are coming in and not getting adopted,” Karalyn Aronow from the animals shelter East Bay SPCA in the United States told The Post. She added that staff caring for dogs and cats had been cut by 75 percent at some shelters.
People all over the world are panic buying. Empty shelves in supermarkets are not only affecting people but animals too. Animals shelters and zoos are having a hard time finding food for their animals. Chris Moiser who runs the Tropiquaria Zoo in England said feeding has become harder because his staff can’t always find the fruits and vegetables needed to feed the animals. If it doesn’t get any better, euthanasia might be an option, he says.
Scientists in Russia start testing coronavirus vaccine on animals. “Most often, laboratory mice and rats are used for such studies, ferrets, lower primates and other special lines of laboratory animals are also used,” the Russian regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, said in a statement.
The Asia for Animals Coalition (AfA) released a statement calling for an immediate ban on all animal markets in Asia. The coalition is composed of 22 well-known animal welfare organizations that have a shared focus on improving the welfare of animals in Asia: “It’s a pivotal time for the governments of Asia to take action to prevent the spread of this current virus and to safeguard against any future outbreaks.”
The #AnimalWelfare movement has a responsibility to let the world know NOW that future outbreaks like #covid19 can be avoided by banning #wetmarkets— Asia for Animals Coalition (@AsiaforAnimals) March 19, 2020
No one else has our combined Asia-specific animal expertise. Will you join the movement?
READ: https://t.co/O3dxGrh8ZR pic.twitter.com/Rfnje1vvLe
The Dodo, a famous website for animal lovers, releases a powerful video called ‘How the wildlife trade started the Coronavirus’. Experts think that COVID-19 started in a wildlife market. This isn’t the first time this has happened, they say.
The Animal Party Cyprus says that there is less food for stray animals due to the coronavirus. Restaurants would often donate food to volunteers who would then give it to dogs and cats that live on the streets. But since many restaurants are closed, there’s no food. The Animal Party calls on citizens in Cyprus to leave bowls of food and water for hungry dogs and cats. They also advised animal organizations to make public what they need, so people can help.
Animals used for tests at universities are being killed, PETA says. According to them, universities have given orders to keep critical animals for tests alive and to start reducing the population of animals.
The United States started testing the new COVID-19 vaccine on humans, while the tests on animals are still ongoing. Usually, animal tests are done first before clearance is given for human tests. But in this case, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the trials on humans. This could set a new trend since the cruelty done to animals in labs compared to the results has been questioned for a long time.
Due to the restrictions in human-to-human contact, animal shelters are having a hard time getting their animals adopted. In New York, dog and cat adoption events have been canceled and fewer people are visiting shelters. Some animal shelters see no other option than to euthanize healthy animals.
Animal organizations in China are scared that more animals will be abandoned or killed thanks to incorrect reports that pets carry the coronavirus. They fear that stray animals will be culled by the government. Animal advocates urge authorities to listen to the World Health Organization, who said that dogs and cats can’t infect humans.
There has been a lot of stress about whether pets can get the virus and spread it. The WHO confirms that there is no evidence that pets, dogs and cats, can get the coronavirus. Dogs and cats can’t infect humans or spread the virus; it’s spreading because of human to human interaction.
Farmers in India are burying their chickens alive. The price they get for a chicken has fallen so low since the outbreak that farmers decide it’s cheaper to kill their chickens than to keep them. PETA India urges the government to use a more humane way of killing, stating a slow death by suffocation through a live burial causes birds unnecessary pain and suffering’.
A dejected farmer Nazeer Makandar from Lolasoora village in #Gokak, #Belagavi decided to bury #chicken from his #poultry farm, following steep fall in price due to #CoronavirusOutbreak. @DeccanHerald @CMofKarnataka @mani1972ias #Coronavid19— Niranjan Kaggere (@nkaggere) March 10, 2020
Nazeer Makandar pic.twitter.com/OExEPM39ay
Fourteen people are diagnosed with the virus in Vietnam. The government is thinking about banning wildlife trade in the country. Conservationists have been pushing to end wildlife trade worldwide.
“I think of this place as a torture chamber and a filthy laboratory all mixed into one,” reporter Liam Bartlett says about an illegal wildlife market in Bangkok in Indonesia. All kinds of animals are stuck in little cages waiting to be sold for food. The ban on trade and use of wild animals should not only be enforced in China but also in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and other countries, Liam says.
WARNING: Graphic images. How did the Coronavirus jump from animals to humans? @60Mins reporter @LiamBartlett9 goes undercover at an illegal wildlife market in Bangkok, Thailand, where exotic wild animals are for sale and for slaughter. Watch: https://t.co/jOKTq1d9X4 #60Mins pic.twitter.com/qXmslK6FFA— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) March 9, 2020
Pet owners in Sydney have been approaching vets and asking for their dogs to be euthanized. They fear that they might be at risk of catching the virus via animal-to-human transmission. An Australian vet was shocked by this since there’s no evidence that dogs and cats can give the virus to humans.
Mice, ferrets, macaques, marmosets, and African green monkeys are being infected with the coronavirus. Since not every animal gets sick from the virus, scientists are struggling to find the ‘right’ animals to perform tests on. Scientists squirt the coronavirus up ferret’s noses to infect them and then perform experiments on them.
Citizens in China are abandoning their dogs and cats with zero evidence that they can get the virus from them. Animal shelters in China can’t cope with the many animals that are brought to them.
Peter Singer, a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and Paola Cavalieri write a plea on the importance of banning wildlife trade worldwide. They say that for the animals, the so-called wet markets are hell on earth. The animals endure hours of suffering before being brutally butchered. Keeping different animals in close, prolonged proximity with one another and with people creates an unhealthy environment that is the probable source of the mutation that enabled COVID-19 to infect humans, according to scientists.
A small dog in Hong Kong tests ‘weak positive’ to the virus. His owner had the infection. The dog was taken in quarantine. After research, experts from the University Of Hong Kong and the World Organization for Animal Health say they “unanimously agreed that these results suggest that the dog has a low level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission“. So humans shouldn’t be concerned about contracting the virus from their pets.
China continues to look critically at the way they use animals. The southern Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen plans to ban the consumption of dogs and cats.
Moscow authorities decide to catch stray animals and kill rats as a precaution against the coronavirus. Animal rights campaigners brand this as cruel and scientifically groundless.
China says it will immediately ban the trade and use of wild animals. With this decision, they want to win the battle against the coronavirus outbreak. Illegal consumption and trade of wildlife will be severely punished as will be hunting, trading or transporting wild animals for consumption.
Many villagers in Linan district of Hangzhou, E China’s Zhejiang province have handed in their hunting tools, in response to the national ban on the consumption of wild animals. #coronavirus #COVID19 #wildlife pic.twitter.com/2zwNvzQU0h— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) February 26, 2020
Science journalist and author Sonia Shah claims human assaults on the environment are to blame for the virus. She says pangolins, bats and even snakes have been suggested, but the real blame lies with humans.
Out of fear of spreading the virus, China mass kills 100 million young chickens.
Experts think the virus came from bats. “Bats and birds are considered reservoir species for viruses with pandemic potential,” Bart Haagmans, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, told Business Insider. They think it went from bats to either pigs, civets or pangolins, and then to humans. “Poorly regulated live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spillover from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.
Animal lovers break into homes in Wuhan to save dogs and cats. With the city being on lockdown and people not being able to return to their homes, their pets are left with no food at home. Pet owners start making pleas online and even ask strangers for help, asking them to feed their animals.
Pets rescued in Wuhan! As many Wuhan residents are under quarantine in hospitals or unable to return to the city due to lockdown amid #coronavirus outbreak, their pets’ life are in danger! Local volunteers are rushing to save the life of not only people but also small animals. pic.twitter.com/YCJnxJKzG7— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 4, 2020
With little known about the virus, a rumor starts circulating in China, claiming that pets can spread the coronavirus. Based on this, reports begin to come in that people are throwing cats and dogs from tower blocks.
Some cities in China start to murder stray animals. Pet owners are urged to keep their animals inside. If animals are found outside, they will be killed. This decision comes without any evidence that the virus can be transmitted from dogs and cats to humans.
Live wolf pups, scorpions, bamboo rats, squirrels, foxes, civets, hedgehogs, salamanders, turtles and crocodiles were found on the product list of a store inside the Huanan Seafood market, which is seen as the source of the infection. The Huanan Seafood market is a so-called wet market, a market where stalls sell live fish, meat and wild animals. Wild animal markets must be banned worldwide, experts in and outside China say. They warn that the sale of wildlife animals for human consumption is the cause of both the new coronavirus outbreak and other past epidemics.
If more zoonotic virus are to be stoped from spillover from wildlife to humans, wildlife trade & consumption in China has to stop & be further controlled. #Wuhan #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/9TLFz8KPvm— Manuel Weber (@ManuelWeberMX) January 22, 2020
China temporarily bans wildlife trade nationwide due to coronavirus outbreak. The virus, which has infected more than 2000 people globally and killed 56 people in China, has been traced to the wet market in Wuhan which was illegally selling wildlife. Pictures and videos appear everywhere online about the horrible circumstances and extreme animal cruelty at these markets.
The first person dies of the coronavirus. The 61-year old male victim regularly bought products at the Huanan Seafood market were animals, dead and alive, were being sold. The other patients either worked or bought products at the market. The Chinese government links the virus to animals sold at the market. The market is shut down.
China alerts the World Health Organization (WHO) of an unusual pneumonia in Wuhan. The virus is unknown. Some of the infected people worked at the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
Do you have information on how your country deals with animals in this crisis, send us a mail at [email protected]