Coronavirus: Chinese officers filmed beating stray dogs to death as fear of the disease continues to spread
A Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue volunteer said the residents had fed both of them just an hour before the community officers culled them
A shocking video shot in China appears to show community officers beating two stray dogs to death in broad daylight, reportedly in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 43,000 people in the country already and killed more than 1,000 people.
The video, which was shot in a residential complex in the city of Nanchong in the Sichuan Province of China, was obtained by the Daily Mail and shows one of the workers repeatedly hitting one of the dogs with a large wooden club.
Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue said that stray dog, as well as another one, were killed at around 9 am near Wenfend Road last week. In another clip taken in the same place, workers can be seen walking away from the dogs' bodies after killing them.
The animals' "atrocious" deaths were condemned by the group, who released a statement on Chinese social media website Weibo addressing the incident and accused the officers of ignoring residents' "psychological stress and trauma."
"At the crucial point of fighting the epidemic, the management office and community officers should have disinfected the neighborhood, recorded information of visitors, supervised suspected patients under quarantine, or even given care to the psychological stress and trauma residents got from the epidemic," they said.
"But instead, [they] ignored citizens' love and appeal for animals and killed lives at will without giving notice or seeking permission," it continued. "Before the matter escalates, please stop the atrocity of harming animals."
A volunteer from the Nanchong Animal Stray Rescue told the Mail that it was hard for him and other group members to intervene because the residential complex was not allowing outsiders to enter quickly because of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said that both the dogs had been healthy and obedient and that the residents had fed both of them just an hour before the community officers culled them.
A resident of the area also revealed that they had received a threatening notice from the community officers that warned them against leaving any of their pet dogs outside. The resident alleged the officers told them, "As long as [we] see a dog in the complex, no matter if it is on the lead or not, we will beat it to death."
However, Officials of the Nanhu Committee, which supervises the complex where the horrific incident took place, said the officers were killing a dog that had bitten some residents and had caused panic in the community. They went on to concede that the dog should have been taken to a shelter and said the workers caught on the video had been reprimanded for their actions.
"Any evidence of animals being beaten to death in the street is extremely distressing, no matter what the circumstances," said Humane Society International spokesperson Wendy Higgins.
"If these videos do indeed show dogs being brutally killed in China out of an unwarranted fear of spreading coronavirus, then it is doubly upsetting. Community officers should be charged with disseminating accurate and scientifically supported information to the public at this time, not in carrying out cruel and pointless culls of dogs. The advice by the World Health Organisation that there is no evidence dogs and cats can be infected with the virus needs to be heard throughout China."
The news of the dogs' beating deaths comes just a week after it was reported that Chinese citizens were throwing their cats and dogs out of tower blocks after fearing they could catch the virus from the animals.