A video circulating online shows Chinese community officers beating stray dogs over fear about the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The Daily Mail reports a video sent to the publication shows the incident taking place in Nanchong, China, which is about 12 hours outside of the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus.
Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue told the Daily Mail that two stray dogs were killed on Tuesday morning.
Officers were quoted saying if they see a dog, they “will beat it to death.”
The incident was said to have taken place at a residential complex, but supervisors of the complex reportedly “denied online allegations.”
Despite fears of dogs being infected with the new coronavirus, “there’s no evidence” pets such as dogs and cats can spread the virus, according to the World Health Organization. NPR reports that “researchers believe that the virus may have originated with horseshoe bats in China and then could have possibly spread to other animals—which people then ate.”
Over 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus, prompting China to remove “several senior officials over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak,” the BBC reports.
A spokesperson told Newsweek there have been several reports of city governments calling for the killing of street animals “out of fear that the animals might transmit the coronavirus.”
Thousands of pets have been abandoned in Wuhan as residents left the city due to the threat of the virus, NBC News reports. Head of the Wuhancat Animal Rescue Center, Lao Mao, told the outlet that around 20,000 to 30,000 animals are trapped in Wuhan without food.
Wendy Higgins, a spokesperson for Humane Society International, said videos of the dogs being beaten were “extremely distressing,” the Daily Mail reports.
“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,” Higgins said.
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H/T Daily Mail