PETS heading for dinner table prompts Beijinger to take action
Twelve large dogs that were destined for the dinner table began new lives on Wednesday after a Beijing woman saved them.
The 12 were among 60 dogs being transported in appalling conditions by dog dealers in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Despite the best efforts of Li Jiahui, the other 48 dogs in the group were not so lucky.
Li, who is a vegetarian and who has a former stray dog as a pet, was in Inner Mongolia with friends when she encountered the dogs while driving on the Linhe section of the Beijing-Tibet expressway on Sept 30.
"I saw a medium-sized truck running in front of my car carrying dozens of large dogs in a cage," Li told METRO.
"The cage was absolutely tiny and they were all piled up on top of each other, stepping on each others' bodies. I could tell some of the dogs were dying."
Outraged, Li called police in Linhe city, who stopped the truck at a nearby toll station and questioned the driver.
Li said she had a good look at the dogs and could see many of them were wearing collars, suggesting they had been pets.
Li said the owner of the truck, a man named Jiang Zongjin, told her he was taking the 60 dogs from Yinchuan, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, to a kennel in Linhe where he would sell them for 100 yuan each. He said they would then be resold to nearby restaurants.
With help from the police, Luo Ronggui, the owner of a nearby kennels, agreed to look after the dogs temporarily while they waited for the Beijing-based China Small Animal Protection Association (CSAPA) to intervene and buy them.
Sadly, by the time the dogs arrived at Luo's kennels, 15 of the 60 were dead.
And when the CSAPA and the police got in touch with Luo after the National Day holiday, Luo said only 21 dogs were still alive and he said they had been repossessed by Jiang who had taken them back to Yinchuan. Li said Jiang insisted he would not sell the 21 remaining dogs to the CSAPA for less than 9,200 yuan.
Upon their arrival at Linhe on Monday, CSAPA staff found only 12 dogs remained. They struck a deal to buy them for 4,200 yuan and take them to Beijing.
Li said it was tragic that only one-fifth of the dogs could be saved and she called on people to pay more attention to the living conditions of small animals in China.
Zhou Runrun, who works for CSAPA, told METRO the association receives calls appealing for help to save small animals every day. During incidents such as the one involving Li, they can only get things done with help from the police.
"Dog dealers are irresponsible," she said. "But the police can do nothing more than talk to them because of a lack of relevant laws."
Zhou said there are no regulations governing acceptable conditions for transporting dogs and there are no laws about the quarantine inspection standards for dogs because they are not recognized as edible animals. In addition, there is not an animal protection law.
"All we can do right now is buy them from the dealers," she said.