The central Chinese city of Wuhan has been decimated by Coronavirus disease, with residents evacuating for safer locations. Many of those evacuees have left animals behind. Now, travel bans are blocking them from returning to their homes, and as days grow into weeks, their animals have become hungry and restless.
In response, a few of those who have stayed behind are breaking into the empty homes in Wuhan to feed the starving animals.
As the New York Post reports, 43-year-old Lao Mao has taken on a number of these missions himself, always making sure to contact the homeowners to let them know how their pets are faring. In one incident, after climbing up some rusty pipes to a third-floor apartment, Lao found a pair of hungry cats huddled under a couch.
Lao video called the cats owners, who began crying when they saw their cats had been fed and taken care of.
Lao Mao is actually Chinese for “Old Cat.” He does not want to use his real name, for fear of worrying his family, but he’s agile enough to get into most homes and apartments, and at this point, his services are in high demand.
An estimated 5 million people have left Wuhan, either because of the disease, or for Lunar New Year parties that were held in late January. Lao Mao believes there are at least 50,000 pets in the city with no one to care for them.
“The volunteers on our team, me included, have saved more than 1,000 pets since Jan. 25,” Lao said. “My phone never stops ringing these days. I barely sleep.”
Sadly, it’s unlikely that Lao or his team will be able to save all of the pets left alone in Wuhan.
“My conservative estimate is that around 5,000 are still trapped and they may die of starvation in the coming days,” he said.
As the disease first spread across central China, misinformation incorrectly linked the advance to pets like dogs and cats. Though animals can contract a variant of the Coronavirus, there have been no reports of pets being infected with this new strain landing thousands humans in the hospital. Still, some communities have implemented mandatory euthanasia policies for any animals caught in public.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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