A video of the beating at a residential compound in the city’s Pudong district was met with horror after going viral on Chinese social media on Wednesday.
The clip, which appears to have been filmed by a resident of a nearby building, shows a Covid prevention worker – dressed head to toe in protective gear – chasing the corgi down a street and hitting it three times with a shovel . He then shows the dog lying motionless.
In two photos posted online, the corgi is seen running after a bus that was supposed to take its owner to an isolation center. Another photo shows his corpse carried away in a yellow plastic bag.
The video and photos have been reposted and deleted by multiple users. CNN cannot identify the original uploader of the video.
The corgi’s owner was in quarantine at the time of the attack, according to state-owned magazine China News Weekly, and had released the dog onto the streets after he was unable to find anyone to care for the animal in his absence .
He claimed a neighborhood committee refused to help care for the dog, the magazine reported. The committee said it was concerned the corgi may have also been infected.
“At that time, the workers did not look into (the matter) very thoroughly. We will communicate with the owner and offer compensation later,” the committee said in response, according to China News Weekly.
CNN made several attempts to contact the committee.
The incident was widely reported on Chinese social media platform Weibo. A hashtag on the subject was viewed tens of millions of times before being removed from the highly censored site to place. The footage caused shock and anger, with many calling the dog’s killing cruel and unnecessary.
And China’s National Health Commission said there was no evidence so far of people catching Covid from pets.
“What is compensation for? It’s a life,” said a popular post on Weibo.
“Pets are part of the family too,” wrote another user – a sentiment shared by many others.
Some even expressed something once considered unthinkable in the country: that China’s zero-Covid battle had gone too far.
“We would rather coexist with a virus”
Throughout the pandemic, China has adhered to a zero Covid policy which aims to eradicate all clusters and chains of transmission through border controls, mass testing, strict quarantines and lockdowns. It has sometimes resorted to extreme measures, including separating infected toddlers from parents and banning residents from leaving their homes for weeks.
This policy was widely popular among the public, with many believing it was necessary to avoid the high death tolls and economic collapses seen in other countries like the US or the UK.
It is not the first time that a pet has been killed for fear that it carried the virus. Three cats met the same fate last September, and another corgi last November. However, the reaction on social media at the time was mixed – although some expressed sympathy and anger, others argued that killing the animals was necessary given the pandemic.
This time the reaction seems very different, with most online comments condemning the killing – perhaps a sign of the public’s patience as living conditions deteriorate under lockdown.
Many Shanghai residents have complained that they cannot access basic supplies like food and medicine. There have been reported incidents of non-Covid patients with other emergencies who died before they could receive medical attention. And those frustrations have only been exacerbated by mixed messages from the Shanghai government, which insisted just two weeks ago that it had no plans for a citywide lockdown.
For some, the corgi’s death was the last straw.
A Weibo user mocked the neighborhood committee’s response: “It’s been two years, and they still think (the corgi) has the virus. Aren’t these people from Earth?”
Another user put it more bluntly: “We’d rather coexist with a virus than this vicious, evil person.”