In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, life for animal rescuer Du Fan (38) has returned to something like normal.
With his Wuhan Small Animals Protection Association, Fan can focus his energy on rescuing, caring and finding homes for stray cats and dogs.
Twelve months ago, the organization was faced with a whole new problem – saving cats and dogs who had homes, but whose owners were not home to give them with food and water when Wuhan went into lockdown. Many were stranded in other cities.
Fan was initially hesitant to help, fearful for his team’s safety. But with the pet owners’ consent, Fan masked up, and broke into their homes, leading his team door-to-door to some 5,000 households, feeding and rescuing over 10,000 pets.
Ninety-five percent of the pets left home alone were cats. “There would be nothing to eat,” Fan said.
“The litter box would be full. So the cat had no place to poop. But when you had finished all your work and when this dog or cat had been saved from death because of your effort, you would feel very fulfilled in your heart,” he added.
Fan, who has worked in the field for over a decade, hopes that the lockdown experience has made people more aware of the care their animals need.
“I’ve been telling my friends that no matter what happens to us, we shouldn’t leave our pets alone at home for too long, whether it’s a cat or a dog,” Du said. “A pet is far more than a friend,” he says. “It’s part of the family.”