Anger has been sparked on Chinese social media after a woman claimed her dog was beaten and killed by a health worker while she was away in COVID quarantine.
The allegation was posted on Chinese social media website Weibo by a woman who was a resident of the Golden Phoenix Garden community in the city of Shangrao, Jiangxi province.
Due to a COVID outbreak in the area, residents have been undergoing quarantine while their apartments are disinfected.
One woman, who was quarantining at a hotel, said that when anti-epidemic workers entered her apartment they came across her pet dog, which was then killed without her consent.
The incident was purportedly captured with a security camera inside her apartment. The footage shows the dog being hit and killed by one of the workers using some sort of bar, according to The Guardian newspaper, sparking backlash from Weibo users.
On November 13, the local district appeared to acknowledge the incident in a statement posted to Weibo, but claimed that the dog had been killed through “harmless disposal.”
It goes on to state that the worker has since apologized to the woman and has been removed from their post, according to the What’s On Weibo website.
The incident has gained significant social media attention on Weibo, with related hashtags gathering tens of millions of views.
One user wrote, according to What’s On Weibo: “This dog was not even confirmed of having COVID-19. Nevertheless, they just beat him to death. How can you be so cruel?”
It is not clear what happened to the woman’s original social media post.
The case comes just weeks after Chinese authorities in the city of Harbin killed three pet cats that were said to have tested positive for coronavirus, again sparking backlash online.
In September, Reuters, citing state-backed Beijing News, reported that the cats’ owner had tested positive for COVID before her cats were euthanized due to concerns they could leave behind viral traces.
While it is known that it is possible for humans to infect domestic pets with COVID-19 in some situations such as close contact, the risk of a pet infecting a human is considered to be low, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets,” the agency notes in a COVID FAQ on its website.