43-year-old Lao Mao or fondly known as “Old Cat”, a Wuhan native gained worldwide attention for his efforts in saving abandoned pets in the centre of the Coronavirus outbreak.
As reported via Reuters, he resorted to extreme measures to rescue pets left alone by their owners in the virus-stricken capital. Climbing up rusty pipes to the third-floor balcony of an apartment to gain entry into the home of a middle-aged couple and rescuing two starving cats found under a sofa, is all in a day’s work.
Since his first rescue attempt, he has been receiving desperate calls from pet owners who are either in quarantine or stranded in other parts of the world – “My phone never stops ringing these days. I barely sleep.” Some folks have even reached out to him on social media.
The beauty in this present time of despair lies in the fact that Lao Mao, who runs an online pet community, Wuhan Pet Life, has recruited a team of fellow animal lovers and volunteers to save more abandoned pets!
“The volunteers on our team, me included, have saved more than 1,000 pets since Jan. 25,” said Lao Mao.
“My conservative estimate is that around 5,000 are still trapped, and they may die of starvation in the coming days,” he added.
According to The Telegraph, out of the thousands of abandoned pets rescued, “99 per cent were cats, 0.5 per cent were dogs and the rest were rabbits and hamsters”.
Although initially housing these pets in his own home, he soon ran out of space given the increasing number of pets rescued.
He recalls how in some cases his team were too late resulting in the pets dying due to starvation.
Although his team have resolved to leave only one month supply of food and water for the pets, it does expose them to higher risk of contracting the virus.
Yet, Lao Mao and his team remain dedicated to their mission – “Of course I’m scared, but just by thinking that the cats would starve to death if we didn’t go, I can’t just leave them there,” he says with conviction.
On a side note, Prevention Is Better Than Cure. Here are important coronavirus prevention tips:
(Image credits: WHO)
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience fever, flu, cough or difficulty in breathing in the following weeks. Also, inform medical authorities if you have travelled to China, in particular, Wuhan recently.
Featured image sourced from Wuhan Pet Life Online