A man spotted a truckload of 580 whimpering dogs crammed together on a Beijing highway, speeding toward their slaughter for their meat. He put a call out on a Twitter-like microblogging site, asking animal lovers to block the truck and force the driver to release the dogs.
Keep in mind that this is China, where activism in general can bring brutal consequences, and where there are few if any animal protection laws except for wild animals. In addition, dogs are still routinely on the menu at many homes and restaurants. So to even make such a request to save these dogs seemed almost hopeless.
But the man put out the call nonetheless, and 200 people responded immediately. They didn’t simply show up with picket signs or come to a shelter to adopt the animals. They drove their cars and physically blocked the truck after it passed through a tollbooth. The blockade lasted 15 hours, and in the end, they negotiated the dogs’ release for $17,000 — mostly contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation. Amazingly, no one was arrested.
According to an AP article, many of the dogs were dehydrated, injured, and suffering from the potentially deadly parvovirus. At least 68 have been hospitalized. The dogs’ rescuers suspect that many of them were stolen.
Dozens of volunteers are working around the clock at the animal hospital that took in the sick dogs. Many others are tending to the healthier dogs at a property run by the Capital Animal Welfare Association on the northern outskirts of Beijing.
“When I saw the poor dogs on Twitter, I cried and cried, but I thought there was no way they could stop the truck. So I was very surprised when they did it and I wanted to help,” Chen Yang, 30, who was helping a dog who had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue, said in the AP article.
The blockade and the outpouring of volunteers is a hopeful indication that animal rights are starting to take hold in China, where age-old traditions are coming under fire as the country becomes more affluent and people see dogs more as pets than as meat.