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Stolen pet dogs rescued from truck on way to Yulin dog meat festival

A number of dogs rescued from a truck bound for the infamous Chinese dog meat festival in Yulin have been stolen, according to an animal rescue charity.

The UK-based organization NoToDogMeat, which runs shelters in several countries with a dog and cat meat trade, has revealed that Chinese activists recently rescued nearly 400 animals when they stopped the vehicle.

Launched in 2010 by dog ​​meat traders in an effort to boost their flag sales, the festival slaughters up to 10,000 dogs and 5,000 cats.

And according to campaigners, many of the animals eaten at the event are pets stolen from loving homes.

Some of the dogs rescued by NoToDogMeat wore collars, leashes, and ID tags with their registration number on it – suggesting they are well cared for and likely much missed pets.

Zhao, who runs the NoToDogMeat shelters in Hebei and Beijing, is pictured with a rescued dog — one of many activists rescued from the dog meat trade

Zhao, who runs the NoToDogMeat shelters in Hebei and Beijing, is pictured with a rescued dog — one of many activists rescued from the dog meat trade

Two of the dogs rescued by charity.  The bigger one is wearing a collar and ID tag meaning he's a pet and probably missed a lot by his family

Two of the dogs rescued by charity. The bigger one is wearing a collar and ID tag meaning he’s a pet and probably missed a lot by his family

Wearing ID tags, like this rescued dog, means the animals had homes from which they were likely stolen, to be sold and eaten

Wearing ID tags, like this rescued dog, means the animals had homes from which they were likely stolen, to be sold and eaten

They now plan to try to track down the animals’ owners so that their dogs can return home.

Meanwhile, they are cared for at a shelter just outside Xi’An city, where they receive food, water and emergency medical care.

They will be moved to safe places in China, including NoToDogMeat’s sanctuaries.

Campaigner Zhao, who runs the charity NoToDogMeat’s shelters in Hebei and Beijing, has been on the scene since many of the dogs were transferred to a shelter just outside Xi’an city.

He said: ‘A lot of the dogs know they sit and stay, and they still trust people, we’ve seen many with a tag still on it, and one of them had a collar and leash still attached.

“We will try to identify the owners, but our priority right now is to make sure all dogs are healthy and have a safe place to go.”

About 386 dogs were rescued from the truck, but some are still being held in a municipal dog shelter and have not yet been released to protesters.

Although the majority of Chinese citizens do not support the dog and cat meat trade, many of the animals are slaughtered and eaten during the Yulin festival.  Two of the festival's rescued dogs are pictured

Although the majority of Chinese citizens do not support the dog and cat meat trade, many of the animals are slaughtered and eaten during the Yulin festival. Two of the festival’s rescued dogs are pictured

Rescue center staff care for the dogs after they were rescued on their way to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, facing certain death

Rescue center staff care for the dogs after they were rescued on their way to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, facing certain death

Zhao, who runs two NoToDogMeat shelters in China, is pictured with one of the rescue dogs - a blind chow chow

Zhao, who runs two NoToDogMeat shelters in China, is pictured with one of the rescue dogs – a blind chow chow

The number of rescued animals grew unexpectedly to 389 shortly after the rescue, when one of the dogs gave birth to three puppies.

“The idea that these innocent lives have now been saved fills us with joy, these puppies were said to have been born in Yulin,” Zhao said.

“We are working hard to give all these dogs the care they need as they have been through a traumatic ordeal and need medical treatment, but they are safe now.”

Yulin is an ancient city in China known for hosting a dog meat festival from June 21 to June 30, ostensibly to celebrate the summer solstice, where an estimated 10,000 dogs and cats are killed and eaten each year.

But despite often being marketed as a ‘traditional’ or ‘ancient’ festival, it only takes place about ten years ago.

It is estimated that 10 to 15 million dogs are eaten each year in China alone – by some figures 50,000 a day and 4 to 5 million cats.

However, polls show that the majority of Chinese do not support the dog and cat meat trade.

Nearly 400 animals were rescued from the truck.  They are currently receiving food, water and emergency medical care

Nearly 400 animals were rescued from the truck. They are currently receiving food, water and emergency medical care

Rescuers will take some of the dogs rescued from the truck (pictured) from their current shelter and send them to secure shelters.  They hope to reunite stolen pets with their families

Rescuers will take some of the dogs rescued from the truck (pictured) from their current shelter and send them to secure shelters. They hope to reunite stolen pets with their families

In addition, about 72 percent of Yulin residents say they do not regularly eat dog meat, despite the efforts of traders to promote it.

Thanks to the work of international organizations such as NoToDogMeat and of Chinese organizations and activists, progress has been made towards ending the brutal trade.

Shenzhen and Zhuhai became the first cities in China to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat in April 2020.

Outside of China, dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, and 17 cities and regencies in Indonesia.

In other parts of Asia, however, an estimated 30 million dogs are killed each year for meat.

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