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News updated at 10:47 AM IST

Chinese rights activists save 520 dogs from butcher's scalpel

Last updated: 18 April, 2011
Beijing, Apr 18, (PTI): 13:42 IST

In a rare show of public activism in China, over 200 internet savvy animal rights activists waylaid a truck and rescued 520 dogs en route to a slaughter house.

Alerted on their microblog networks by a fellow activist who forced the truck to stop, the activists rushed to the Tongzhou section of Beijing-Harbin expressway and blocked the vehicle from moving for over 15 hours.

After seeing the blog, hundreds of animal activists began arriving at the scene with mineral water and food. Some celebrities and foreigners were also rumoured to have shown up, official 'Global Times' reported.

Their presence jammed the highway temporarily and forced police to shut down a nearby exit, the report said. The "seize" ended after police brought about a compromise following which an environmental conservation foundation agreed to partly fund to buy the dogs for about 115,000 yuan (USD 17,606).

Problem arose because police found the truck had all the necessary paperwork, including animal quarantine and immunity for the dogs and sale of dog meat is legal in China. After all the fracas the angry truck driver retorted "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.

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

Zhu Feng, a volunteer and a veterinarian who works in an animal hospital and saw the dogs, told the 'Global Times' that most of the dogs were in a serious condition. The online activism, which is on the rise is also making Chinese officials wary of the country's 450 million users internet with a network of over 100 million microblogers.

The move by rights activists also sparked an online debate among the internet users, which has about 450 million users and about 100 million microblogers. An online poll also showed that about 69 per cent of about 7,000 voters did not support the activists. "One group's love and kindness should not violate others' freedom, rights and interests, otherwise, they would become evil," Lian Yue, a columnist, said on his microblog.

Despite demand for dog meat, more and more Chinese are increasingly turning to pet care with dogs emerging as favourites. So much so that cities like Shanghai have already imposed one dog policy to restrict their numbers.

There was such enthusiasm for dogs in the recent years that one dog lover bought a Tibetan Mastiff, a rare hefty mountain dog bred in Tibet for three million Yuan (USD 450,600) creating a record of sorts.

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