Hundreds of stolen pets are rescued from an illegal Chinese slaughterhouse amid coronavirus crisis

27257662-0-image-a-3_1587021415126https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8223393/amp/Hundreds-stolen-pets-rescued-illegal-Chinese-slaughterhouse-amid-coronavirus-crisis.html?ito=social-twitter_mailonline&__twitter_impression=true

  • Images show frightened dogs being driven away from the abattoir this month
  • A total of 423 dogs, most believed to be stolen pets, were saved in the operation
  • Activists have urged Beijing to ban people from eating dogs and cats nationwide 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has been linked to the eating of exotic meat in China
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Hundreds of stolen pets have been rescued from an underground abattoir in central China as animal lovers urge the country to ban citizens from eating dogs.

Pictures provided to MailOnline show frightened, wounded and helpless dogs being driven away from the illegal slaughterhouse in the province of Henan this month.ADVERTISEMENTAd

The news comes as more than 137,000 people around the world have lost their lives to the coronavirus, which has been linked to the eating of exotic meat in China.This picture provided by Humane Society International shows dogs being transported by a lorry on April 3 after being rescued from an underground abattoir in central China this month A rescuer is pictured petting one of the dogs after they were confiscated by local authorities Animal activists and volunteers are pictured helping dogs getting off a lorry after freeing them from an illegal slaughterhouse in Henan. A total of 423 dogs, including stolen pets, were saved

Activists have called on Beijing to bar wild animals, as well as dog and cat meat, from the dinner plate after the global outbreak emerged in Wuhan city in December.

A total of 423 dogs, most believed to be stolen pets, were saved in the operation on April 3, according to animal charity organisation Humane Society International (HSI).

Rescuers then transported 25 of the sickest dogs to Beijing to be looked after by an animal shelter jointly operated by HSI and its Chinese partner, Vshine.  

The rescue effort took place after police received a tip-off from animal rights activists and pet owners who had lost their dogs and were looking for them. 

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‘This is such a typical story in China, bereft pet parents searching for their lost dogs, animal activist and netizens mobilising to help, and a nightmarish dog slaughterhouse being uncovered in the process,’ a spokesperson from HSI told MailOnline.

‘It’s too early to say if any of the rescued dogs will turn out to be the missing pets being searched for, but the majority of the dogs saved will have once been someone’s companion,’ she added.  Activists have called on Beijing to bar wild animals, as well as dog and cat meat, from the dinner plate after the coronavirus outbreak emerged in the city of Wuhan in December Activists and legal experts have in the past proposed animal protection law to ban the eating of dogs and cats completely. But so far, no national legislation has been released to ban pet meat In February, China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals in response to the coronavirusShenzhen and Zhuhai have also banned their residents from eating dogs and cats The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have listed dogs as ‘companion animals’

Several groups took part in the operation, including Vshine’s partner groups in Henan and Zhengzhou Animal Protection Association.

Assisted by volunteers, the charities worked together to apply pressure on local authorities, urging them to confiscate the dogs.

Staff from Vshine led the negotiations with law enforcement officers and participated in the confiscation.       Animal charity workers are seen carrying some of the rescued dogs off a lorry on April 15 Volunteers give water to some of the rescued dogs, which have been put into separate cages Those dogs were saved from a slaughterhouse in Henan, central China, this month after police received a tip-off from animal rights activists and pet owners who had lost their dogs

In February, China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals in response to the coronavirus.

Two cities, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, have taken further steps and banned their residents from eating dogs and cats.

Last week, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs excluded dogs from farm animals in a proposal, which could see canine meat being barred from the dinner plate across the country.

The authority said it recognises dogs as ‘companion animals’ and ‘not suitable’ to be treated as livestock.

Experts have called the Ministry’s proposal ‘a significant step in the right direction’.  Volunteers are pictured taking the dog to an animal shelter. Activists have demanded China prohibit the eating of dogs for years, but no law has been passed so far on a national level One volunteer is pictured providing dogs with water in an animal shelter after the rescue While no evidence suggests that dogs can spread coronavirus, the global crisis has prompted the international community to press on their demands for China to halt its dog meat trade Some of the dogs are pictured at an animal shelter after being saved from the dinner plate

Animal rights advocators have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the eating of dogs for years, but no law has been passed so far on a national level.ADVERTISEMENT

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China.

It sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by locals on the summer solstice every year.

While no evidence suggests that dogs can spread coronavirus, the escalating global emergency has prompted the international community to press on their demands for China to halt its dog meat trade.

The exact source of the coronavirus remains unclear. 

But an investigation carried out by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January showed that the virus was passed onto humans by wild animals sold as food at the market, state media Xinhua reported. 

The market traded various live animals, including foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines, koalas and game meats, according to the South China Morning Post. 

Wuhan officials ordered the market to shut on January 1 in the wake of the outbreak.

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