Abandoned when Pakistan's largest cities went into lockdown, hundreds of caged cats, dogs and rabbits have been found dead inside pet markets hurriedly shuttered as the coronavirus spread.
Animals still alive in the corner of Karachi's sprawling Empress Market were rescued only after activists appealed to the authorities for access.
Two weeks into the shutdown, Ayesha Chundrigar could hear the cries of the pets from outside the shops, which together housed up to 1,000 animals.
"When we got inside, the majority of them were dead, about 70 percent. Their bodies were lying on the ground," Chundrigar, who runs ACF Animal Rescue, told AFP.
"It was so horrific, I can't tell you."
Starving and locked in cages with no light or ventilation, the surviving pets sat amongst the dead, trembling.
As the virus pandemic grew, Pakistan's major cities were plunged into lockdown, forcing many shops to close. Only stalls selling essential goods such as food and medicine were allowed to continue operating.
It left pet shop owners blocked from their businesses, some resorting to sneaking in at night to feed the animals.
After the desperate rescue, Chundrigar has now convinced the Karachi authorities to allow pet shop owners and her team daily access to the animals.
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