HUNDREDS of cats and dogs abandoned in the outbreak city of Wuhan are being ruthlessly executed by the Chinese authorities, say reports.
Many of the starving pets were left alone in houses and apartments when their panicked owners hastily fled the coronavirus-stricken community.
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"We know that many dogs and cats have been left behind in apartments in Wuhan, in particular, when residents were evacuated," said Wendy Higgins, director of international media at Humane Society International.
"Estimates are impossible, but we do know that in Wuhan, for example, animal activists have assisted with animals in upwards of 1,000 apartments. So, the numbers nationwide will be significant."
CNN reports those who left their pets behind typically left only enough food and water to last a few days.
While some have been rescued by animal welfare activists, others either starved to death or were reportedly killed.
Vshine Animal Protection Association, a China-based animal welfare group, estimates tens of thousands were left alone to die.
"Things can get worse if the epidemic remains uncontrolled," warned Deng Fang, chief of staff for Vshine.
Chinese officials have also been rounding up animals and executing them in a bizarre bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports.
False fears over pets catching the virus first circulated after a Chinese health expert claimed animals needed to be quarantined.
Community officers in cities across China then reportedly knocked on doors and ordered residents to give up their pets before slaughtering them.
Others pets found abandoned in homes were also then killed off.
One distressing video shared by Nanchong Missing Animal Aid Group showed a number of bloodied dogs, believed to be dead, lying in the back of the truck.
In another video, shared by an animal activist, one officer is seen wearing a face mask next to a lifeless dog.
The activist condemmed the video on Weibo saying: ""top slaughtering pets in the midst of the epidemic. Enforce law in a civilised way."
There have also been reports of pet owners chucking their cats and dogs out of tower blocks following the unproven claims the virus being passed on by animals.
Five cats were also thrown to death in Shanghai, with locals apparently saying they were pets as they had smooth and clean fur, say unconfirmed reports.
One dog was found dead after allegedly being thrown from one block of flats in Tianjin City in Hebei Province.
Local media stated the pooch was thrown from the upper floors of a tower block at 4am and smashed into the sunroof of a car before ending up on the ground.
Reports state the noise of the dog hitting the car woke sleeping locals as it sounded like a tyre explosion.
Sickened families then found the poor pet lying dead on the ground with its blood staining surrounding bricks.
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