While the Yulin Dog Meat Festival has gained global notoriety for inhumane and horrific acts of animal slaughter, a massive rescue effort mounted just days before the event has freed at least 1,300 dogs and cats from certain death.
A truck transporting animals earmarked for the meat trade was en route to various Guangdong slaughterhouses in Southern China when it was intercepted by more than 100 activists. Lacking the required health certificates for the animals, the truck driver was persuaded to relinquish his cargo, or else face consequences from Chinese animal transport regulations, Humane Society International reports.
Those who weren’t involved in working with local law enforcement to free the animals were diligent in other ways, providing food, water, and comfort to the dogs and cats who had traveled nearly 2,000 kilometers in cramped containers.
“This was an audacious rescue, the single largest dog and cat truck rescue that we’ve seen so far in China,” said Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI. “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.”
The Gansu province, where the animals are thought to have come from, is often rife with stories of stolen pets. And, HSI maintains, many of the animals confiscated showed signs of being raised as companion animals, unlike those bred specifically to be butchered.
“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,” Li affirmed. “These young activists are the hope of a new China that will be free of the dog meat trade cruelty. The activists found the dogs and cats wailing out of pain and despair, stuffed into tiny cages and hardly able to move. Many were sick and starving, with disease spreading rapidly in the tight confines of their cages.”
At least 20 of the animals died while being transported, before rescuers stopped the truck, Shanghaist reports.
As the Yulin Festival begins on the summer solstice, this particular rescue reinforces the importance of year-round vigilance toward animal cruelty.