The COVID-19 outbreak has created havoc that has led to an increase in the circulation of fake news and factually incorrect information. A few days ago, one such myth about animals and pets being the carrier of COVID-19 was spreading like wildfire. After which a surge in animal cruelty and pet abandonment incidents were noticed. 

Source: Quartz

In their press conference, WHO busted this myth and clarified that dogs and cats cannot contract or carry the virus. However, despite the clarification and amidst the panic, various states have seen an increase in the abandonment of pet dogs, especially Mumbai. 

The increase in abandoned pets could have something to do with the fact that civic corporations including BMC along with 16 other corporations were responsible for spreading misinformation which stated that COVID-19 "spreads from wild and pet animals" through hoardings and pamphlets.

Source: My Animals

These pamphlets which were distributed in housing societies further misadvised people to take precautionary methods and stay away from pets and animals to save themselves from the virus. 

Source: AKC.com

As a result of this factually incorrect information (which was proved wrong by WHO), pet owners across Mumbai heartlessly ended up abandoning their dogs and cats on the streets. An unnamed pet owner and resident from Kandivali opened up about the struggles of the current situation: 

I saw three pet dogs, including a German Shepherd, abandoned on the streets of Kandivali. I am afraid that if we take our pets out for a walk, people may complain. 
Source: Daily Post

This one "little" mistake of spreading misinformation has led to an increase in acts of animal cruelty. A few days ago, because of the Coronavirus scare, farmers in Karnataka buried around 6,000 chickens alive. Animal Right Activist Vijay Rangare, has been constantly getting calls from animal lovers who are being harassed for feeding the stray dogs. 

Source: Dog Express

Not only that, but pet owners are being forced by societies to abandon their pets if they wish to live peacefully . Narrating a recent incident, the Ragnare mentioned: 

Today, I was told about a family in Airoli whose electricity supply was cut off when they refused to leave their dog on the street. When they approached the police, the cops said the family will have to abide the societies law's. 
Source: QDT

Infact, Speak For Animals has reported cases of perfectly healthy and young pets being abandoned in Odisha. The NGO suspects that these cases are due to the COVID-19 scare and the misinformation. Responding to these cases, the Chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority Subroto Bagchi says: 

If we would not think of abandoning a โ€˜humanโ€™ family member, how can we abandon a pet. 

Upon knowing about the situation, the Animal Welfare Board of India has written to these civic officials, pointing out how their instructions might lead to an increase in animal cruelty.

S.K Dutta the secretary of AWB has also issued a letter requesting the civic corporations to spread awareness about the misinformation and ensure that the animals are not subjected to sufferings. 

Source: Scroll

With an aim to eradicate the misinformation around this topic, Netizens take measures to spread factual awareness about how pets especially dogs and cats cannot contract the virus:

If you are one of the pet owners who panicked amidst the misinformation, please make effort to look for your abandoned pet. Wherever they are, whatever trauma they're in, they're waiting for you. 

Feature Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror