It all started when an SUV stopped in front of the truck to prevent it from driving any further.
Due to the outrage that has been building around the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China over the years, it has become even more well-known that in some areas of China it’s common to eat dogs. This fact in itself has caused outrage, as dogs are beloved pets in many countries and the thought of slaughtering them just to eat them, much like many countries do to livestock animals, is unfathomable.
To many people living in China, however, the slaughter of dogs is looked down upon because of the cruel methods used and that’s why, when locals saw a truck filled with dogs coming down the road, they felt the urge to intervene. The dogs had reportedly been loaded up Hunan, China and were intercepted near Beijing on their way to Guangzhou, a journey which takes about 3 days total. With barely enough room to breathe, the dogs also had no access to food, water, or a place to go to the bathroom.
Compelled by the endless cries of pain and fear coming from the hundreds of dogs in the truck, the locals stepped in, starting with one man who drove his SUV in front of the cargo truck so that it could go no further. A standoff ensued between the local animal lovers and the driver of the truck, at which point the police stepped in to moderate and animal rescue groups and volunteers showed up to help.
“The dogs suffered a lot due to high density,” Peter Li, China policy expert for Humane Society International, told The Dodo. “Disease has been spreading among some dogs. There are also pregnant mother dogs who suffered the most from food deprivation.”
Due to the high volume of dogs—rescuers originally estimated that there were 800 but there ended up being 1,300—hundreds of volunteers wound up showing up to help with the standoff and eventually help unload the dogs. This included leaders of an animal protection group in Guangzhou, China, Wu Xuelian and Xiaog Qiang, who saw the rescue through until the end. According to Li, it was the biggest haul of dogs HSI has ever seen, which means that they had their work cut out for them.
Although it’s not illegal to kill dogs for meat in China, it’s required that all truck drivers transporting dogs must have health certificates for every animal in their care. Since there are no dog meat farms in China, all of the ones used for meat are either strays or stolen pets, making it highly unlikely that the driver had health certificates for all of them.
After 10 hours of attempting to provide as many dogs as they could with water and food, as well as removing some of the dead dogs that they could reach, the driver finally surrendered the dogs to the animal rescuers. They set to work on unloading the cages and providing the dogs with food and water. Unfortunately, some of the dogs didn’t make it, but according to Li many more would have died just during the journey if they made it all the way to Guangzhou.
If the dogs had made it to the slaughterhouse, like the 10 million that are brutally killed every year in China for meat, they would have endured a painful death from a variety of methods used, including being electrocuted, hung, bludgeoned or stabbed to death. They are also often skinned or cooked alive. Thanks to the tirelessness of the volunteers, none of the survivors will have to face this cruel death.
“The conditions of many of the dogs are heartbreaking,” Xue Lian, one of the rescuers, said in a Facebook post. “But miraculously, many of them stopped crying when we unload them as if knowing they are finally safe.”
Along with the cessation of crying, many of the dogs displayed signs of relief and happiness when they were let out of their cages, even showing the rescuers how grateful they were to be alive and out.
“Many of the dogs displayed behaviors that showed they were members of loving families before,” Li said. “Several dogs were wagging their tails seeing the young men and women [who saved them], as if seeing their families.”
The Duo Duo Project, which helped with the rescue, noted on their website that some of the dogs were even still wearing their collars, proving that they did belong to families and were stolen. The dogs were taken to a nearby facility, where they were assessed by a vet, quarantined, and will be treated before they’re made available for adoption. They were also scanned to determine if any of them had microchips and belonged to a family.
With the dedication shown by animal rights groups and activists from China, the rescuers are hoping that this will send a message to the rest of the world about what the Chinese people are all about.
“Guangzhou used to be called the ‘world capital of dog and cat meat consumption,’” Li said. “This rescue in Guangzhou tells the world that dog meat industry has no future in this mega city in South China.”
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