Packed into rusted crates and loaded onto a truck the day before the Yulin dog meat festival, nearly 1,000 innocent animals were on their way to a slaughterhouse near Guangzhou, China—the world’s largest hub for dog and cat meat. Their fates seemed sealed, but Chinese animal rights activists and rescuers partnered with the Humane Society International worked together to save their lives. It took over 9 hours of negotiation and close cooperation with the local police force, but finally, they pulled off what is being called “one of the country’s biggest rescue efforts to date.”
For hours, animal activists were in a standoff blocking the truck from continuing to its destination. They uncovered the fact that the driver didn’t have health certificates for the animals—a requirement to uphold China’s animal disease control laws. It was this legal detail that finally forced the driver to surrender the animals and release them into the care of rescuers.
Rescuers reported that the dogs and cats were close to starvation. They were wailing with hunger, panic, and pain as disease spread quickly through their cramped confines. Of the animals still alive, many of the dogs showed signs that they once had loving homes. It’s a common practice in China for dog meat suppliers to sneak onto properties and steal people’s pets. They make it look like the animal had simply run away by leaving the gate open or planting other signs of escape. Their owners rarely learn of their horrible fate, and the thieves profit from selling the stolen animals for their meat.
More than 10 million dogs and four million cats are killed for their meat every year in China. While the annual Yulin dog meat festival has faced international opposition since it started in 2009, attempts to stop it have been unsuccessful. The 10-day festival highlights the cruelty dogs and cats face year-round. Over 10,000 innocent animals are expected to be consumed at the festival this year. Many of them will be pets stolen from their homes.
Eating dog and cat meat has been a part of Chinese culture for generations, but this recent rescue is evidence that the public’s perception is slowly changing. Independent reported that hundreds of local young adults stood side by side with HSI partners. They helped unload the animals from the truck and administered food and water.
HSI is working to bring down the dog and cat meat industry, but they can’t do it on their own. Consider donating to help them save the lives of more animals.
Featured Image Source: Facebook/Humane Society International