Hundreds of trafficked cats and dogs died on a Chinese death truck heading for slaughter and market

Animals were cramped in terrible conditions before activists and police stopped the truck

Chinese activists and police have stopped a truck crammed full of 1,408 cats and dogs on a 750-mile journey to slaughterhouses for the meat trade in China.

Cruel conditions and rampant illness meant 370 had already died on what the activists are calling the ‘death truck’ from Fucheng, north China, to Yulin in the south.

China has no animal protection laws that charities can use to prosecute traders for cruelty, but the two truck drivers were able to be detained for transporting sick animals between provinces without the right paperwork.

Hao Da-yue of the Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) activist group, which helped rescue the animals in Xiao Tao city, said: ‘I’ve attended many rescues of dogs and cats from the meat trade, but never before have I encountered such a shocking scene.

‘This was a death truck, crammed full with desperate, frightened, traumatized animals caged up with their dead and dying companions.’

Animals were cramped in terrible conditions before activists and police stopped the truck

A quarter of the animals found were already dead or died soon after police stopped the truck

A quarter of the animals found were already dead or died soon after police stopped the truck

'This was a death truck, crammed full with desperate, frightened, traumatized animals'

‘This was a death truck, crammed full with desperate, frightened, traumatized animals’

The 'death truck' was on a 745 mile journey

The ‘death truck’ was on a 745 mile journey

She continued: ‘The smell of death, diarrhea and vomit was overwhelming, and the sound of the animals whimpering and crying for our attention, was just heartbreaking.

‘I saw a number of dogs and cats die on the roadside despite desperate attempts to help them, there was nothing that could be done but hold them as they passed away.

‘Activists worked with tears in their eyes, many clearly shocked by what they were witnessing. The world needs to see how these poor dogs and cats suffer for China’s meat trade.

‘Such appalling cruelty brings shame on China and shame on the majority of Chinese people who want nothing to do with this despicable trade.’

Eating cats and dogs has become less popular in China as pet ownership has steadily risen.

The slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs is banned or otherwise ended has been banned in Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, and many other Asian countries have introduced laws prohibiting the practice in recent years.

A poll of 378 million people following the 2020 bans in China found 75% of Chinese citizens agree with the ruling.

The ‘death truck’ was intercepted on 1 October in Xian Tao city in central China’s Hubei province, half way along its intended 745 mile (1,200km) journey from Fucheng in the north to Yulin in the south.

After the police stopped the truck, rescuers from local animal groups were met by Beijing-based dog meat campaign specialists from Capital Animal Welfare Association who were able to carefully unload the traumatized animals.

They found animals suffering with open wounds, broken bones, respiratory disease and severe dehydration, as well as many that had not survived the journey.

The activists administered emergency treatment on the roadside, temporarily moving the dogs to a nearby school and the cats to a holding facility to be sent on to shelters.

Police and activists stopped the truck on its 745 mile journey

1,400 pets and strays were found on board the 'death truck'

Police were only able to stop the truck legally on the grounds of health and safety concerns

Activists will work to treat the surviving pets and strays before they can be sent to shelters

Activists will work to treat the surviving pets and strays before they can be sent to shelters

While popularity dwindles, four million cats a year may be killed for a minority of cat eaters

While popularity dwindles, four million cats a year may be killed for a minority of cat eaters

Many sick and suffering animals died on the roadside as activists tried emergency treatment

Many sick and suffering animals died on the roadside as activists tried emergency treatment

Hao Da-yue attended the scene and estimates that most of the 718 dogs were likely stolen pets, and the 690 cats were probably snatched from the streets. The surviving animals are now being cared for by staff at local shelters who are administering life-saving treatment.

They fear that the animals have endured such an ordeal, more may yet succumb to their injuries and sickness. HSI is providing emergency funds to help some of the shelters caring for the animals.

The two truck drivers have been detained by police and reported to Xian Tao officials, and the trader who contracted them and accumulated the animals now faces investigation by the Agriculture Bureau and could face charges for transporting sick animals across provincial boundaries without legally-required quarantine papers .

In recent years, support for banning cat and dog consumption has risen with pet ownership

In recent years, support for banning cat and dog consumption has risen with pet ownership

The surviving animals are being cared for by staff at local shelters and receiving treatment

The surviving animals are being cared for by staff at local shelters and receiving treatment

75% of Chinese citizens supported the recent bans in Shenzhen and Zhuhai back in 2020

75% of Chinese citizens supported the recent bans in Shenzhen and Zhuhai back in 2020

Dr Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, said: ‘I want to pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of Chinese animal activists who work so hard to help animals caught up in the dog and cat meat trades.

‘Having been to dog and cat slaughterhouses and meat markets myself, I know first-hand how traumatizing it is to see this scale of animal abuse, and yet they are committed to exposing this cruelty in the hope of ending the trade for good.

‘Most people in China don’t support this trade and it doesn’t reflect modern Chinese society, but without robust animal protection laws in place, we will continue to see this terrible cruelty.’

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