DUBAI: Horrific videos and images of dogs agonizingly foaming in the mouth after being poisoned have circulated on social media after a Lebanese TV station falsely reported that cats and dogs could transmit the deadly coronavirus.
The report, published on Saturday, has been since taken off social media after animal activists and experts dismissed the claims as bogus. The preceding panic however resulted in owners abandoning their pets or other residents poisoning dogs and cats for fear of contracting the virus.
However, not all poisonings had sad endings as pictures sent exclusively to Arab News showed Bruce, an Asian Shepherd, recovering from the ordeal after being poisoned in Byblos.
The owner took immediate actions when he suspected signs of poisoning, and took his dog to the veterinarian clinic for immediate treatment. With the veterinarian assistance, the valued pet dog is now recovering at home, its owner said.
“Here in Bsalim, due to the ignorance of some people who ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization, one of them put poisoned meat on a street to kill pet dogs (friends of man). Watch Odin wrestle with death and his condition critical. You are criminals, criminals,” Joe Maalouf, a Lebanese TV presenter and animal rights activist, commented in a video he posted on Twitter showing animal doctors trying to revive Odin, a German Shepherd, that was poisoned with food picked up from the side of the road.
A separate tweet from Maalouf likewise showed images of poisoned meat in the patios and gardens of Bsalim, a village in the Matn district of Mount Lebanon governorate.
مزيد من اللحوم المسممة وجدت اليوم في بصاليم في الباحات والحدائق في بيوت الناس لقتل الحيوانات الاليفة!! من يتحمل مسؤولية هذه الجريمة ؟ البلدية تحركت وغداً سنراجع القضاء المختص لفتح تحقيق ومراجعة الكاميرات في أسرع وقت ممكن pic.twitter.com/3NBHayq6zv
— joemaalouf جو معلوف (@joemaalouftv) March 29, 2020
“More poisoned meat was found today in Bsalim, in patios and gardens in people’s homes to kill pets !! Who is responsible for this crime? The municipality has moved, and tomorrow we will review the competent court to open an investigation and review the cameras as soon as possible,” Maalouf said.
Lebanese biologist Gino Raidy also earlier posted on Twitter images of apparent rat poison baited for dogs, as he called out the TV station who earlier made the claim that cats and dogs transmit the coronavirus.
After reports on MTV falsely claimed that pets carry the novel coronavirus (not true) which MTV retracted without an apology or clarification (as usual), many evil people are trying to poison our pets.
These photos are from Sursock in Beirut today! pic.twitter.com/U0NHXbu1t5
— Gino Raidy (@GinoRaidy) March 30, 2020
“After reports on MTV falsely claimed that pets carry the novel coronavirus (not true) which MTV retracted without an apology or clarification (as usual), many evil people are trying to poison our pets. These photos are from Sursock in Beirut today!,” Raidy commented on Twitter.
In the past week there have been two dogs and a cat that have tested positive with COVID-19 – the cat one after its owner had fallen ill with the disease.
Yet despite these cases and a third dog earlier in March in Hong Kong, the number pales in comparison with the number of humans infected, online publication sciencemag.org reported.
And experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said and continue to say that dogs and cats pose little risk to people.
“CDC does not have evidence that pets can spread COVID-19, and there’s no reason to think pets might be a source of infection based on the information we have at this time,” Casey Barton Behravesh, director of the agency’s One Health Office in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, was quoted as saying.
Lebanese health officials on Tuesday reported 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 463, while the number of deaths has risen to 12.