Even as the majority of the domestic and international press crowned Inner Mongolia native and Shanghai resident Duo Zirong for her courage to stop the truck and “save” 800 cats from the food trade on July 7, dissenting voices have been raised with regards to the character of this women. And some have gone so far as to call her — as we have heard recently from those involved in various animal rescue organizations — more of a psychopath hoarder than a cat saviour.
Heated discussion about her motives and the real situation of the cats is now raging among local cat lovers, as you can read on this pet forum here, and here (both in Chinese). Many of these threads were started by trusted local animal rescuers we have known for years, and some latest reports from local volunteers include first-hand accounts that Duo’s cats are now starving and some of the hungry cats are now eating dead cats.
This video filmed by local animal rescuers shows what her place really looks like. They say it is no more than a disease-ridden cat concentration camp. The video was taken on Jul 17, 10 days after she got the 800 cats, but nowhere in the video can you find more than 1,000 cats. As far as we know, 21 cats were moved away by volunteers from Petsky.com and 56 sickest ones by movshow.com volunteers, and about 100 sent to St. Antone veterinary hospital by Auntie Li, a local animal rescue worker. Volunteers who were in Duo’s shelter say there were no more than 300 cats there, so where did the rest of hundreds of the cats go? Only Duo knows. In the video, she dismisses the possibility of feline panleukopenia (an acute viral infection of cats) breaking out in her shelter because “Buddha will protect me”.
Shanghai-based Second Chance Animal Aid has a very clear stand on animal hoarders like Duo Zirong, as we read in their open letter to Duo:
Hoarding animals is a disease seen in China and around the world. It is often an obsessive-compulsive disorder that leads people to keep acquiring animals regardless of their inability to properly care for each and every one. In addition to well-meaning hoarders, there are people who hoard for more sinister reasons. Some hoarders have been actually fronts for the trade in cats and dogs for market. Some are ways to solicit money from unsuspecting donors.
Western veterinarians from PAW caution animal lovers who decide to adopt pets from hoarders to check their pets of the following diseases:
Malnutrition, dehydration, fleas, lice, ringworm (fungal skin infection), bacterial skin infection, ear mites, tapeworms, roundworms, Calici virus, Rhinotracheitis virus, Panleukopaenia virus, Chlamydia, FeLV, FIV, FIP, traumatic wounds including broken or damaged limbs, severe behavioural issues from mental trauma leading to uncontrolled urination, defaecation, anorexia, adypsia (not drinking).
As an aside, Duo has just received another truck of 480 cats on Jul 29, reported by Sina.com, and paid RMB 3,000 for it (not her own of course). Meanwhile, Nory Pet, a China-Swiss joint venture has decided to sponsor Duo Zirong in a kitty adoption event from August 4-31 at Longhua Lego Mall. While this may be good PR for Nory Pet, we do hope they conduct prior health checks for all the cats up for adoption that day.
SCAA: Carol Wolfson’s Response to Duo Zirong’s “Rescue” of Over 800 Cats in Shanghai, China
SCAA: All Hoarders Are Not Created Equal – A Unique SCAA Success Story
SCAA: An Open Letter to Animal Welfare Advocates on China’s Ms Duo Zirong and on Hoarding Animals