Chinese animal activists have rescued more than 1000 dogs and cats from a truck headed to slaughterhouses in southern Guangdong province.
About 100 activists took part in the rescue in Guangzhou, confronting the driver and stopping the truck, Humane Society International reports.
The truck reportedly originated in southern Gansu province, an area that has long been associated with dog theft, and had apparently travelled 1950 kilometres before reaching Guangzhou.
Among the first to arrive were activists from one of HSI’s almost 40 Chinese partner groups.
More than 100 Chinese activists rescue dogs and cats from a truck headed to slaughterhouses in Guangzhou province. Photo: Humane Society International
Live animals shipped over provincial boundaries in China must have a health certificate for each one on board, HSI says.
Without the certificates, the dogs are considered to have been stolen.
Most dog-meat traders cannot produce such certificates for every animal they carry. Sometimes they produce fraudulent documents.
The truck driver produced only one health certificate for all the animals on board.
A truckload of dogs and cats that was intercepted by Chinese activists. Photo: Humane Society International
Activists negotiated with the driver and urged police to enforce the nation’s animal disease control and prevention laws, while others gave life-saving aid and water to the exhausted and dehydrated animals, HSI says.
After a 10-hour standoff, about 1300 dogs and cats were saved.
An agreement on handing all the animals over to the activists was eventually signed by an official of Guangzhou’s government health inspection agency and Wu Xuelian, a leading activist and partner of HSI.
“This was an audacious rescue, the single largest dog and cat truck rescue that we’ve seen so far in China,” said Peter Li, Associate Professor of East Asian Politics at the University of Houston-Downtown and HSI’s China policy expert.
“We applaud the brave work of the men and women animal lovers who saved the lives of these terrified animals who were headed towards a brutal slaughter.
“What has made this rescue of far-reaching significance is that hundreds of young people from Guangzhou, the once so-called ‘world capital of dog and cat meat consumption’, have participated in the rescue.
“These young activists are the hope of a new China that will be free of the dog-meat trade cruelty.
“The activists found the dogs and cats wailing out of pain and despair, stuffed into tiny cages and hardly able to move.
“Many were sick and starving, with disease spreading rapidly in the tight confines of their cages.”
Most of the surviving dogs displayed behaviours common in companion animals, HSI says.
The various breeds of the dogs on the truck suggested that they had come from suspicious sources.
The slaughter of dogs and cats in China is extremely cruel, HSI says.
Slaughter is typically done by bludgeoning the animals’ heads and then slitting their throats.
The butchery happens in front of the other terrified animals waiting for their turn, HSI says.
As the global spotlight fell recently on the mass slaughter of dogs and cats at the annual Yulin dog-meat festival, Dr Li said this rescue was a timely reminder that, for millions of these animals across China, every day is like Yulin and the focus should be on shutting down this cruel trade.
While the rescued dogs and cats were not headed to Yulin, they are an example of the 10 to 20 million dogs and 4 million cats killed annually for human consumption across China, HSI says.
Dogs are eaten in many provinces in China as a rare food choice.
Cats are eaten mainly in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
Guangzhou is the world’s largest hub for dog and cat meat consumption, HSI says.
The meat is sold at markets and at restaurants.
By Steve Jacobs
Sydney Morning Herald