Skip to content

Shelter cares for pets while their owners are locked in isolation facilities

The city’s first pet shelter gives needy felines and canines a temporary home during this special time.

The temporary shelter for pets owned by confirmed COVID-19 cases or their close contacts in Huangpu District’s Laoximen Subdistrict was opened on Jiangyin Street on May 7. Its manager and founder Zhai Jiang is also the owner of a nearby pet clinic called Babara Vet.

Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

A poster, a staff work schedule, and a QR code to enter the pet shelter are posted outside the property.

Zhai, 48, has more than 20 years of experience in the pet industry. When the subdistrict staff approached him to discuss establishment of the pet shelter last week, he immediately agreed, owing in large part to his strong love for little animals.

As one of the areas most affected by the pandemic in Huangpu District, it was decided in early May for close contacts in Laoximen Subdistrict to also be relocated to dedicated isolation facilities to stamp out transmission of the virus.

However, how to care for their house pets became a problem for many residents who needed to be transferred. In fact, some would cite this as an excuse not to comply with the transfer.

“Many of those who were to be transferred called me in tears,” Zhai said, adding that he could clearly feel that many of them treated their pets almost like their own children, and were naturally concerned.

Shelter cares for pets while their owners are locked in isolation facilities

Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

A volunteer helps Zhai Jiang to put on his protective suit.

Timi, a 5-year-old Labrador who lived with his owner on Menghua Street, was the first “guest” when the pet shelter opened.

Prior to this, the dog had been cared for over three days by the residents’ committee after his owner was transferred to a makeshift hospital as a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Timi was sent over by Laoximen Subdistrict staff after the shelter was opened.

Zhai said that all pets are delivered to the shelter by a special car from the subdistrict. After the owner returns home, so are the pets in a vehicle arranged by the subdistrict.

“You’re not going to see Timi,” Zhai said. “After his owner’s recovery from him, he was picked up and returned home on May 8. He is the first puppy to leave our shelter.”

Services provided at the shelter are free. It has two rooms, can accommodate up to 40 dogs and 10 cats, and at the time of the interview there were five cats and two dogs in residence.

“I have bought items such as cat food, dog food, and cages,” Zhai said. “Five volunteers from the pet hospital help me to care for the animals.”

Zhai set up a tent next to the shelter and, since it opened, he and a volunteer sleep on site to monitor and provide for the pets’ needs.

They disinfect the shelter each day, feed the animals, and do cleaning. They also input each pet’s health status and their owner’s information into a computer.

Shelter cares for pets while their owners are locked in isolation facilities

Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

A tent set up next to the shelter allows Zhai and volunteers to monitor the pets’ health status.

The pet shelter is equipped with a videocam so that owners can see their pets in real time. Zhai also takes videos or photographs of the pets to share with owners via WeChat.

“We let them see their pets at all times to set their minds at ease and recover more quickly,” he said.

A puppy named “Gou Gou,” sent to the shelter on May 9, has kept on barking.

Zhai said that when pets have an intense stress reaction, the staff immediately discuss possible solutions with the owner. They seek information about her temperament, and adjust their diets accordingly.

Shelter cares for pets while their owners are locked in isolation facilities

Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

A puppy named “Gou Gou” had an intense stress reaction and kept barking in the shelter.

Due to current limited conditions, the shelter can only accept pets from families with quarantined caretakers in Laoximen. Interested residents can get more information from their own neighborhood committee.

Zhai hopes that more shelters can be established in the city to give the pets a temporary home in this special time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.