On the eve of China’s annual Yulin dog meat festival, Chinese activists have rescued up to 1,000 dogs and cats in Guangzhou from a truck headed to slaughterhouses in southern Guangdong. The rescue provides the world with a timely reminder that the cruel dog and cat meat trade is not restricted to the Yulin festival but is a year-round and nationwide problem. While the dogs and cats were not headed to Yulin, they are an example of the estimated 10-20 million dogs and four million cats killed annually for human consumption across China.
Dr Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, said: “This was an audacious rescue, the single largest dog and cat truck rescue that we’ve seen so far in China. 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.”
More than 100 activists participated in the rescue, with HSI’s Chinese partners among the first on the ground and leading the rescue operation. As activists negotiated with the truck driver and local police for the latter to enforce the nation’s animal disease control and prevention laws, others provided life-saving aid and water to the exhausted and dehydrated animals. It is one of the largest dog and cat rescues that HSI’s Chinese partner groups or indeed any Chinese groups have operated to date.
“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,” said Li. “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.”
As a global spotlight falls on the mass slaughter of dogs and cats at the Yulin dog meat festival, Li says this is a timely reminder that for millions of these animals across China, every day is like Yulin and the focus needs to be on shutting down this cruel trade across the country. Please help: Speak out against the dog meat trade.
- The truck reportedly originated in southern Gansu province, an area that has long been associated with rampant dog theft, and had apparently travelled 1,948 kilometres before reaching Guangzhou.
- Reports from the activists state that the truck driver did not have health certificates for the dogs, which Chinese animal transport regulations require for each animal.
- Most surviving dogs displayed behaviours common in companion animals. The various breeds of the dogs on the truck also suggested that they had been pets and were not raised to be killed for their meat.