Shelter filled with dogs saved from slaughter

Updated: 2012-04-23 07:55

By Zheng Jinran in Beijing and Guo Anfei in Kunming (China Daily)

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About 200 volunteers crowded in a temporary shelter on Sunday attending to the roughly 480 weak dogs that were rescued on their way to be slaughtered as food last week in Kunming, Yunnan province.

"I came here right after I found out about the dogs online," said Yu Yihan, a 22-year-old travel guide, who has spent more than five hours a day at the shelter since then.

Shelter filled with dogs saved from slaughter

About 500 dogs rescued by animal lovers were in makeshift homes at the Wangjiaqiao police station in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Friday. [Photos by Duan Yuliang / for China Daily]

"But all I can do is minor things, like putting water in their mouths," said Yu hoarsely. "We stopped the shipment, and I'm proud of myself."

About 500 dogs were found caged in a truck heading to Yulin, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Thursday. A witness reported the shipment to the police, fearing the dogs were being illegally brought to sale, and posted the news on a micro blog. The posting attracted hundreds of animal lovers' attention.

Subsequently, a joint investigation conducted by the local police station and department of agriculture and forestry confirmed that the shipment had the complete legal documents needed and that the transport was legal.

"I highly doubt it, because more than 100 dogs are family pets, like a golden retriever. Why would the factory raise such pets for food? They are obviously stolen," said an organizer of the shelter named Yao, who declined to give his full name.

The police station and agriculture and forestry department could not be reached for comment.

Shelter filled with dogs saved from slaughter

The dogs, shown here at the police station, can barely move in their cramped cages. [Photos by Duan Yuliang / for China Daily]

To protect the dogs from slaughter, a local businessman who declined to be named paid 60,000 yuan ($9,500) to buy them from the shippers. More than 50,000 yuan has been collected from animal lovers to pay for their care until homes can be found.

More than 20 dogs died from a lack of water and food or from disease during the long trip. On Friday, the rest were moved to the shelter in a suburb 15 kms from downtown for examination and treatment and to protect residents from any diseases the dogs may carry.

"Many of them are suffering from dehydration, malnutrition or infectious diseases, and they are very weak," said Zhao Yue, a veterinarian at the shelter and an associate professor of Yunnan Vocational and Technical College of Agriculture.

Some of the seriously ill dogs were to be taken to the college for further treatment on Sunday afternoon, he said.

Some residents have come to the shelter to adopt a dog. "After all the examinations are completed, healthy dogs will be sent to new families, and we will follow up to make sure that they are treated well," said Yao, the shelter organizer.

"These dogs are lucky to have been saved from slaughter, but many more have been killed and served as food," said Song Jinzhang of the China Small Animal Protection Association.

"We hope the government will hasten the legislation of small-animal protection laws," he said, adding that the world's first animal protection law was passed in England more than 100 years ago.

Song also said that some animal welfare protection organizations have faced severe funding shortages after providing refuge to large numbers of dogs that were rescued from slaughter.

"The government should give some financial support to such organizations," Song said.

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