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Life for animal lover Du Fan has returned to something like routine on the anniversary of the world’s first coronavirus lockout, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

That means that Du and his group, the Wuhan Small Animals Welfare Association, will concentrate their resources on saving, caring for stray cats and dogs and finding homes. Twelve months ago, however, when the town where the coronavirus appeared went into lockdown, Du, 38, and his community faced a whole new dilemma – saving pets who had homes, but whose owners were unable to provide them with everyday necessities.

“So they began a project that eventually led to them saving more than 10,000 pets from more than 5,000 households,” Du said.

The gift of the gab or special passes was often mandatory to get into residential compounds. And to get into the flats, Du’s team will employ locksmiths to unlock the doors, with the owner’s permission. Cats were ninety-five percent of the pets who left home alone.

“There would be nothing to eat,” Du 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.

Du said he and the team’s work benefited the entire community, not just the owners of the pets and their livestock. “While helping the owner of the animal, we also helped the whole compound by maintaining its hygiene,” Du said.

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After two weeks, the project was cut short when an even tighter lockdown was imposed. But Du said that thanks to his team putting down large quantities of food and water that could last for weeks, many pets were able to get through the remaining two months of lockdown and calling on owners to find a way to get back to Wuhan, which many ended up doing.

After the pandemic, Du has found that knowledge and understanding of animals has increased in many areas, such as with respect to feeding wild animals, cats and dogs.

Eating such meat in many parts of China is a practice, but the wild animal trade has been banned following the pandemic.

“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.


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