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Video Shows 282 Dogs, Some Destined for Meat Trade, Being Rescued

Animal rights activists in China and local police have intercepted a truck carrying nearly 300 dogs—in appalling conditions—that were destined to be sold into the meat or pet trades.

The truck—packed with 260 puppies and 22 adult dogs—was making a grueling, 1,000-mile journey when it was stopped on a highway in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, according to a statement from animal welfare non-profit Humane Society International (HSI).

One activist at the scene said the dogs were being kept in such poor condition that they described it as a “truck from hell.”

In fact, conditions were so poor that 12 of the puppies had died by the time the truck was intercepted, while a further 18 passed away shortly after due to parvovirus and distemper—two highly contagious diseases that can be fatal in dogs.

In addition, many of the surviving puppies are suffering from dehydration, starvation and skin disease.

The truck was stopped after one anti-dog meat trade campaigner (simply identified as “Teng”) spotted the truck and alerted local police, as well as coordinating local activists to organize a rescue.

In a statement, Teng said: “My heart sank when I spotted the truck on the highway that night. I knew it was going to be bad because there were so many dogs crammed inside, but I hadn’t expected there to be so many tiny puppies.

“They were all crying for our attention, covered in their own urine and faeces, and in really bad shape. It was disgusting what they endured, like a truck from hell for those poor dogs.”

Teng reported a suspected illegal transportation of live animals to the local police, who responded rapidly, dispatching officers to intercept the truck.

The driver was then unable to provide the required documents to legally transport live animals across provincial borders and authorities seized the dogs, with activists being allowed to provide emergency veterinary care.

A spokesperson for HSI told Newsweek that there are no laws specifically against the dog meat trade—at least when it comes to consumption or transportation—anywhere in China other than bans that have been introduced in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

The law that the trucker breached in this case pertains to the transport of live animals (not just dogs) without the required health and quarantine certificates.

“Of course, dog traders don’t have [these] because virtually all the dogs they transport are stolen pets or street dogs,” the spokesperson, Wendy Higgins, told Newsweek.

In May, 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official declaration confirming that dogs are companion animals and not on the country’s “livestock” list, reflecting changing attitudes.

Polling suggests that dog meat is currently only eaten infrequently by a small portion of the population, while a 2016 survey indicated that more than half of Chinese people think the dog meat trade should be banned.

Higgins said all of the adult dogs on the truck were destined for the meat trade, and the puppies, according to the truck driver, were going to be sold as pets.

“However, in reality because so many of the puppies were in such bad health, it’s likely that many of them would have been rejected by their intended buyer and therefore they would have ended up at the dog slaughterhouse too.

Dogs can find themselves at slaughterhouses via a number of routes, but being rejected for the pet trade is certainly one of them,” Higgins said.

The surviving dogs are now safe and receiving veterinary care, food and water at a nearby shelter. After they have completed a quarantine period, they will be transported to a shelter operated by Vshine.

Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist, told Newsweek: “Despite there being no nationwide ban on the dog meat trade in China, and virtually no animal protection laws, it’s still possible for the police and legal system to crack down on this cruel trade by applying the laws and regulations that do exist which are routinely breached by dog traders.”

“This truck rescue is a great example of Chinese animal activists and police doing just that,” he said. “As most dogs and cats caught up in the dog meat trade are stolen pets or stray animals, the traders hardly ever have the required paperwork, and the situation is somewhat similar for puppies bred intensively for the pet trade.”

According to Li, the dog meat trade and public slaughter of dogs often breaches other laws related to food safety, animal epidemic prevention, environmental health, and child protection, that can be applied.

“And of course dog slaughterhouses are technically illegal because dogs are not officially recognised as livestock,” he said. “If police forces across China meticulously applied these laws, the dog and cat meat trades would find it very much more difficult to operate. So, we congratulate the police in this case for a job well done.”