Activists pay to rescue 800 dogs

Updated: 2011-10-17 07:43

By He Dan and Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

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Activists pay to rescue 800 dogs

Volunteers move a cage of dogs from a truck in Zigong, Sichuan province, on Saturday. [Chuan You / for China Daily]

BEIJING / CHENGDU - Two animal protection organizations paid about 83,000 yuan ($13,000) to a dog trader in Southwest China's Sichuan province to rescue nearly 800 dogs that were due to be delivered to restaurants in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The deal was clinched in the city of Zigong on Saturday night after two-days of negotiations.

Qiao Wei, 26, who works for Sichuan Qiming Companion Animal Protection Center (SCAPC), a Chengdu-based animal welfare organization, told China Daily that the money was paid for humanitarian reasons and not used to buy the dogs.

The SCAPC and the Love of Home Animal Rescue Center (LHARC) in Chengdu would not have paid the dog trader Tang Daguo a cent if they had not taken into consideration his economic plight, Qiao said in a telephone interview.

"A deputy Party chief of Gongjing district in Zigong, surnamed Zhu, told us Tang was very poor," said Qiao.

The deal was clinched between the SCAPC and LHARC with the help of Gongjing district, Qiao added.

The dog trader, Tang Daguo, has now promised to give up dog trading. All the dogs will be taken away by dog protectionists without any compensation if he does not mend his ways according to a written agreement signed by Tang, the two animal protection organizations and the local district government.

The initiator of the dog-rescue campaign, a volunteer who gave the name "Wenzi", said none of the volunteers felt it was reasonable to pay the dog trader but they ran out of choices during the standoff as dogs were dying in the truck. Eight dogs died in the crowded cages during the standoff.

"The dog trader refused to let us release the dogs from the cages," Wenzi said, adding Tang asked for 120,000 yuan for the dogs at first.

Dog lovers found caged dogs were being loaded on two trucks and two tricycles in a village on Friday evening.

When they and their supporters arrived at the scene, one truck with about 500 dogs left the scene, but they managed to stop another truck and the two tricycles, said Zhou Xuan, a 29-year-old dog lover in Zigong.

The dogs are now being cared for by the SCAPC and LHARC in Chengdu.

Chen Yunlian, 62, founder of LHARC, said she rushed to Zigong on Friday night and sent the dogs distributed to her organization to its newly established base in Shuangliu county in Chengdu.

"Our organization has only 12 staff members. And I will be the only one available to take care of the rescued dogs on Monday," she said.

Chen said most of the dogs are in poor health after two-days without food and water, and some have broken legs as the cages were crowded.

"We are providing the dogs with water and food which they had been deprived of because of the narrow space in the truck," Qiao said.

He said that health checks would be conducted on all the rescued dogs and any sick dogs would be separated from the others.

Some of the dogs were stolen from their owners as two pet owners went to the spot and found their dogs in the cages, and many of the dogs failed to meet the quarantine standards, which would have posed health risks for consumers, Chen said.

An Xiang, a lawyer in Beijing, said he did not applaud the volunteers' behavior of buying the dogs from the dog trader as it encouraged wrongdoing.

More people should press the government to strengthen its supervision in the sector, An said.

In a previous case, volunteers stopped a truck in April carrying 520 dogs on the Beijing-Harbin Highway and finally paid 100,000 yuan to save them from being butchered and sold as meat after a 15-hour standoff. The case also aroused much controversy among the public.