The journey to save Wuhan's lockdown pets

Life has finally returned to normal for animal lover Du Fan, on the anniversary of the lockdown in Wuhan, China.

Du is the head of the Wuhan Small Animals Protection Association, and spends his days rescuing, caring and finding homes for stray cats and dogs.

But just one year ago, Du was scrambling to different compounds across the city on a desperate mission.

As the onset of the global health crisis forced Wuhan into one of the world's strictest lockdowns, Du was suddenly flooded with requests to save pets whose owners were no longer able to care for them.

Many were stranded in other cities, while some fell ill themselves.

Du was initially hesitant to help, fearful for his team's safety.

But with the pet owners' consent, Du masked up, and broke into their homes, leading his team door-to-door to some 5,000 households, feeding and rescuing over 10,000 pets.

Just two weeks later, the project was suspended as an even stricter lockdown was put in place.

But Du says the pets survived the remaining two months thanks to the large amount of supplies like food and water left behind by his team.

Du says the rescue efforts not only saved the animals, but also brought immense relief to the lives of Wuhan residents during a scary and stressful time.

"A pet is far more than a friend," he says. "It's part of the family."

Video Transcript

- Life has finally returned to normal for animal lover Du Fan on the anniversary of the lockdown in Wuhan, China. Du is the head of the Wuhan Small Animals Protection Association and spends his days rescuing, caring, and finding homes for stray cats and dogs. But just one year ago, Du was scrambling to different compounds across the city on a desperate mission. As the onset of the global health crisis forced Wuhan into one of the world's strictest lockdowns, Du was suddenly flooded with requests to save pets whose owners were no longer able to care for them. Many owners were stranded in other cities, while some fell ill themselves. Du was initially hesitant to help, fearful for his team's safety.

DU FAN: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- But with the pet owners' consent, Du masked up and broke into their homes, leading his team door to door to some 5,000 households, feeding and rescuing over 10,000 pets. Just two weeks later, the project was suspended as an even stricter lockdown was put in place. But Du says the pets survived the remaining two months, thanks to the large amount of supplies-- like food and water-- left behind by his team. Du says the rescue efforts not only saved the animals, but also brought immense relief to the lives of Wuhan residents during a scary and stressful time. "A pet is far more than a friend," he says. "It's part of the family."