Dog lovers ready rescue missions

By Liu Xin in Yulin and Zhao Yusha in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/21 1:08:00

Private groups faced with dilemma of fate of saved pets

A customer inspects a dog for sale at the Big Market in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Monday. The vendor claimed that he was selling dogs he raised at home. Photo:Li Hao/GT

Dog lovers from all over China gathered in South China's Yulin on Monday, a day ahead of the city's controversial dog meat festival, in order to rescue the animals by purchasing them from the vendors.

However, compared to previous years when dog lovers clashed with dog meat restaurant owners and dog butchers, both sides this year appear to be avoiding clashes - the dog lovers were staying low-profile while quietly arranging purchase deals, and the vendors no longer butcher dogs at public markets.

On Monday morning, Global Times reporters found no animal activists at a vegetable and meat market called "Big Market" at Baishiqiao Road in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which used to be one of the major markets which sold and butchered dogs on site.

Five vendors were still selling caged dogs at the market at 100-160 ($15-24) yuan per dog. The vendors said those were offspring of dogs they had raised at home.

But there were also bigger-sized dogs for sale, including German Shepherds.

A local resident surnamed Zhang told the Global Times that the vendors no longer butcher the dogs at the market this year after local authorities intervened.

Local authorities have been allegedly advising restaurants to cover up signs showing dog meat in order not to provoke dog lovers.

Uniformed officers of local business regulators were patrolling on Monday the Big Market and the Jiangbin Road known as "Dog Meat Street."

Separate missions

A Zhuhai, Guangdong Province monk said he came to support the dog-lovers' rescue mission. But he did not find any dog-lovers at the Big Market.

Dog lovers and organizations said they were on separate missions to rescue dogs.

"This is a sensitive issue," a dog lover surnamed Liang from neighboring Guangdong Province told the Global Times when asked about his plan to buy dogs. "We all have our own plans."

Liang also said he has no intention to join other dog lovers, and also refused to reveal his plans to buy dogs.

Yang Xiaoyun, a dog lover from Tianjin, told the Global Times she intended to buy dogs on Tuesday, and she paid 500 yuan ($75) for cages for dogs, but was informed by the cage maker that this work cannot be done without any reasonable explanation.

Yang said she did not raise too much money this year for the online rumors about her, and she and other dog lovers intended to buy dogs in low profile this year.

Yang once created a stir on her arrival in Yulin, paid 150,000 yuan ($24,000) for nearly 360 dogs and dozens of cats and saved them from being slaughtered in2014. Since then, she has become famous in Yulin, and many vendors called her ahead of the festival to sell her their animals.

Yang only said she will bring the dogs she buys back to Tianjin without any specific plans, and refused to reveal how many she will buy this year.

Rescue and die?

But dog lovers are faced with what has to be done after saving the pets.

"We will send staff to Yulin to buy dogs this year," Zhi Hui, a volunteer at Hushengyuan, an animal shelter hosted by Dragon King Temple in the small city of Gaoyou, East China's Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times on Monday.

Dog lovers last year sent about 1,300 dogs they rescued from Yulin to this shelter. But some 200 dogs died on their way from disease or wounds.

"Only about 400 dogs live today," Zhi Hui told the Global Times.

According to her, 1,300 dogs were purchased by animal activists for 500,000 yuan ($78,500).

The shelter funds the rescued dogs from the temple and some were raised by dog lovers, Zhi Hui said.

The shelter can only raise a limited number of dogs, she said, and the donations are very unstable. "Sometimes we received hundreds of bags of dog food, other times much less," Zhi said.

Hu Xiaowu, a sociologist at Nanjing University, said that accepting such a huge number of dogs poses a big challenge for a shelter in terms of management, finances and rescue ability, according to the Modern Express.

"We respect the rescue, but private rescue forces alone lack sustainability," Hu said

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