On Monday, in the lead up to the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, Chinese animal activists intercepted a truck loaded up with more than 1,000 dogs headed for the slaughterhouse.
The truck was spotted driving down a highway in Guangdong province by two activists who quickly called for backup. When the truck stopped at a gas station in Guangzhou’s Baiyun District, it was promptly surrounded by the cars of activists, according to a report from NetEase.
Refusing to let the driver leave, activists demanded to see the health and transportation certificates for the animals. When the driver was unable to produce these, activists called local authorities.
From there, a lengthy standoff ensued that lasted well into the night with hundreds of volunteers facing off against police, urging them to enforce China’s animal control laws and let the dogs go free. Eventually, an agreement was reached allowing activists to unload the dogs off the truck at a Guangzhou animal shelter.
In total, activists say that some 1,300 dogs were packed into dozens of cramped crates stacked high on the truck. Many of the animals were in extremely bad shape. Some of them had been smothered by the weight of fellow canines, while others had become delirious with hunger and thirst, wailing loudly and whimpering softly.
According to the Humane Society International’s account of the incident, the truck had originated all the way up in Gansu province and had driven nearly 2,000 km, bound for a Guangdong slaughterhouse. HSI also alleges that many of the dogs were stolen pets.
After unloading the animals, activists discovered that at least 20 had died in transit.
The survivors will reportedly be distributed around to various animal shelters in the Guangzhou area. Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist at HSI, has applauded the massive rescue operation:
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.
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.
The dogs may have destined for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which is proceeding as usual this year despite widespread rumors that it would be banned by local authorities. The annual festival began on Wednesday with the summer solstice as once again both dog eaters and dog lovers flocked to the infamous Guangxi town where an estimated 10,000 canines are slaughtered for food.
Earlier this week, more than 100 animal activist groups in China published an open letter, warning “rescuers” against buying condemned dogs off traders to save them from the slaughterhouses of Yulin. While it might seem like the right thing to do, it actually does more harm than good, the letter argued, by inflating prices and enriching traders.
[Images via NetEase]
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat