Dog-saving on highways triggers animal rights debate

09:06, April 18, 2011      

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Saved dogs arrived at the China Small Animal Protection Association in Beijing on Saturday. Photo: CFP

Animal-rights activists are barking mad over news that trickled out over the weekend involving a truck full of 520 dogs that was stopped Friday on a highway en route to a slaughterhouse.

Discussion of the issue was rife over the next two days, particularly online, with people debating the merits of national laws protecting animals.

A man surnamed An saw the truck at the Tongzhou section of the Beijing-Harbin expressway at 11 am Friday. Suspecting the dogs were illegally acquired, he forced the truck to stop and asked others for help via his microblog, according to media reports.

"After overtaking my truck, An's car abruptly braked, forcing me to make a panicked stop," Hao Xiaomao, the truck driver, told the Global Times. "It would have been a rear-end collision if I had reacted slower."

After seeing An's blog, hundreds of animal activists began arriving at the scene with mineral water and food. Some celebrities and foreigners were also rumored to have shown up.

Their presence jammed the highway temporarily and forced police to shut down a nearby exit, according to reports.

The police later found that Hao had all the necessary paperwork, including regarding animal quarantine and immunity, for the dogs, but activists refused to abandon their rescue effort.

After nearly 15 hours, the incident ended with a pet company and an environmental conservation foundation co-buying the dogs for about 115,000 yuan ($17,606).

However, Hao said he still suffered a 20,000-yuan loss due to his failure to deliver the dogs to Jilin Province.

Accusing the activists of acting improperly, Hao, 33, said, "They were neither the police nor inspectors. Besides, their acts were too dangerous on a highway."

"I transported dogs as (I would) pigs, cows and sheep. The country dose not ban the consumption of dog meat," Hao said, adding that the dogs were purchased from their breeders, not stolen.

As word spread, many animal-rights supporters hailed the saving of lives, but others questioned the legitimacy of such action.

Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA), called the move "a brave act," adding that "society should encourage such moves, despite their risks."

Qin, who rushed to the site with six colleagues, told the Global Times on Sunday that the dogs were in the custody of the China Small Animal Protection Association in Beijing.

Zhu Feng, a volunteer and a veterinarian who works in an animal hospital and who saw the dogs, told the Global Times that most of the dogs were in serious condition.

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Source: Global Times
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