Dogs saved from dinner table
A volunteer helps to clean a temporary shelter at Dongyuhe village in Changping district on Sunday. Some of the 430 rescued dogs are being kept at the shelter.
Animal rights campaigners rescued 430 dogs from the dinner table at the weekend after staging a 15-hour blockade at a toll station in Tongzhou district.
April 17, Beijing - More than 200 people swamped the checkpoint near Zhangjiawan to demand the release of the animals, which were being transported from Henan province to restaurants in Changchun, capital of Jilin province.
The dogs, many of them stolen family pets, had been trapped in a truck for two days with no food or water, said Wang Qi of the China Small Animal Protection Association. About 10 had already died, while another 100 showed symptoms of dehydration and infectious diseases.
"It's clear that people in Henan have been stealing pets and selling them to restaurants," said Wang, who added that the truck contained golden retrievers and huskies with bells and nametags still around their necks.
He said that the driver told campaigners at the scene that his logistics company dispatches a truck full of dogs to Changchun every eight days.
The standoff began after an animal lover called An - he did not reveal his full name - called on netizens for help. Writing online, he said he and several friends had stopped the truck loaded with dogs at the toll station at about noon last Friday. By that evening, scores of people were on the scene, with the sudden influx of vehicles causing serious congestion. Several police officers arrived shortly after.
Following 15 hours of negotiations, the logistics company eventually agreed to sell the dogs for 11,500 yuan, with the money put up by Leepet Holdings and the Shangshan Foundation.
The animals that were healthy enough were transferred to the China Small Animal Protection Association's Beianhe base in Haidian district, where they will be made available for adoption in a month. The rest went to animal hospitals across the capital.
"We can save 400 dogs, or even 4,000 dogs, but we don't have the ability to save all the abused small animals in China," said Wang. "I hope the authorities can draft an animal protection law to protect this vulnerable group."
China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law, nothing to protect pets and common animals, said attorney Wei Xiaodong at Beijing Huiyuan law firm. In this case, the truck driver was not breaking the law as he was able to provide the necessary quarantine documents.
"As more families are keeping pets, we need to have a law that regulates the rights and obligations of pet owners and prevents abuse," he added.