About 400 birds and dozens of dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and guinea pigs have died in Dhaka’s biggest pet market after stores had to close during Bangladesh’s coronavirus lockdown.
“At least 20 percent of our animals have died,” Rahman Shikder, a spokesman for the Katabon market’s store owners association, said.
“We need to keep the doors open so the animals don’t suffocate,” shop owner Mohammad Polash explained to AFP, who had to close his door on the first of July.
After the deaths made national headlines, the government on Wednesday
ordered police to let the pet market’s 75 tiny shops open their doors for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.
Animal rights activists have accused the shops of keeping pets in unsafe conditions. “Places like Katabon should not exist in the first place,” the head of animal rights group Obhoyaronno, Rubaiya Ahmad, told AFP.
“The animals there were already kept in extremely inhumane conditions, and it’s no surprise they met such horrible deaths,” she said.
“Wherever animals are kept in confinement, they will always be the first to pay the heaviest price in such unusual circumstances,” Ahmad added.
Police were patrolling Katabon when AFP visited on Wednesday. Some officers gave shopkeepers a warning for opening outside of the permitted times. “Police would fine us if we open our shutters,” owner Bappi Khan said.
Bangladesh has allowed some lockdown limits to be lifted for Eid al-Adha, a religious festival where animals are sacrificed.
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