For more than 10 hours, 300 dogs sat in cramped, miserable cages.
Some were injured. Some were ill and dehydrated. All of them were packed in as if they were things instead of living, sentient creatures. And it was brutally hot.
The dogs were well—and purposely—hidden within the confines of the dog meat truck. Nobody might ever have known of the evil taking place within.
Then, a miracle happened. On July 23, Chinese citizens spotted the truck, which originated in the Shandong province, and realized its final destination: a dog meat market located in the Jilin province of northeastern China. This was a job for social media! Rescuers signed on to WeChat, a popular messaging app, to inform animal-welfare advocates in Qinhuangdao.
The race to save all 300 from being butchered was on.
Peter Li, Chinese policy specialist with Humane Society International (HSI), told The Dodo that no dog trucks had ever been stopped before reaching Jilin, which is China's second largest dog meat market — until now.
Risking their own safety, rescuers followed the truck closely while also notifying local law enforcement. Although dog meat consumption is legal in China, officers were asked to investigate whether the dogs all had the required health certificates for transportation.
Advocates from China Animal Protection Power (CAPP), a coalition of Chinese groups fighting the dog meat industry, quickly arrived on the scene.
The truck carrying the dogs was stopped in the Liaoning province by police officers and, after a two-hour dialogue between the truck driver, animal welfare advocates and police officers, they driver agreed to hand over all 300 dogs.
"Police confiscated all of the dogs, with zero compensation to the traders, and placed them in the care of the activists," Li said in a statement.
According to Li, many of the dogs looked like typical pet dogs or rural guard dogs. Most of them had clearly spent time around humans, as they were eager to cuddle and make friends once released from the truck.
"China does not have dog farms," Li said. "The majority of the dogs slaughtered for food are believed to be stolen pets or stray dogs." Li told The Dodo that dog meat traders in Jilin, which has a large Korean population, have used Korean culture as a defense for procuring and consuming dog meat. ;
"The perception is that ethnic Koreans eat dog meat as a cultural food choice," Li told The Dodo. "This is not necessarily true. Like the rest of Chinese, ethnic Koreans do not eat dog meat in the same way they eat pork or fish. Dog meat consumption in Jilin as it is in Korea is very tiny, not a household food. However, the Han Chinese dog meat traders, in order to promote their business and create demand for dog meat, have been known to exaggerate ethnic Korean fondness for dog meat."
As for these lucky canines—saved truly in the nick of time—they're now receiving medical treatment and will be adopted into forever homes once they're well enough.
"This successful rescue is a huge encouragement to animal activists throughout the country," added Li. "It showed that the dog meat trade can be stopped if law enforcement strictly enforces the country's laws."
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Courtesy of The Dodo, enjoy this video of another man risking his own life to save a dog!