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Tag: china

Documentary looks at Thai dog smugglers

As many as 200,000 dogs a year are smuggled out of Thailand, across the Mekong River and into Vietnam. The cruel journeys — in which the dogs are crammed in cages — last for days. The destination is even, by Western standards, meaner yet.

While smuggling the dogs is illegal, killing, cooking and eating them is not, and remains a tradition among some  in China, Vietnam and South Korea.

This CNN report, based on a new documentary, The Shadow Trade, looks at both the supply and the demand — and the cruel road between the two.

Dogs commonly become dehydrated, stressed, and die during the trips, in which they are packed 20 or more to a cage, and 1,000 or more to a truck.

“Obviously when you’ve got dogs stacked on top of each other they start biting each other because they are so uncomfortable, any kind of movement then the dog next to the one that’s being crushed is going to bite back,” said Tuan Bendixsen, director of Animals Asia Foundation Vietnam, a Hanoi-based animal welfare group.

When they arrive in Vietnam, the dogs are bludgeoned to death and have their throats slit before they are butchered for their meat.

Some animal rights activisists say the stress all that inflicts, even before death, is intentional — that some believe the stress and fear release hormones that improves the taste of the meat.

While some of the dogs rounded up in Thailand are strays — known as soi dogs — John Dalley of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation estimates 98% of them are domesticated and says some are wearing collars and have been trained and respond to commands.

“You can see all types of pedigree animals in these captured Thai shipments — golden retrievers, long-haired terriers, you name it,” says Dalley. “Some are bought. Others are snatched from streets, temples, and even people’s gardens.”

A dog in Thailand can sell for $10, according to animal rights activists, but they’re worth $60 once they are served up in restaurants in Vietnam, where they estimate a million dogs a year are eaten.

The trade is illegal in Thailand, but, with no animal cruelty laws, traders are commonly charged with illegally transporting animals.  The smugglers usually receive sentences of just a few months in jail. And the dogs taken from them often wind up being captured again by traders, and shipped again to Vietnam to become meat.

500 dogs in China saved from slaughterhouse

More than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.

Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours — until they were able to negotiate the dogs’ release for $17,000, saving the dogs from being slaughtered and served as food.

While farm-raised dogs are traditionally eaten in China and some other Asian countries, the man who arranged the spontaneous road block over the Twitter-like social media site Sina Weibo, in addition to being an animal activist, reportedly suspected they were stolen.

After spotting a truck packed with hundreds of whimpering dogs on a Beijing highway, he put out a call begging fellow animal lovers to come and help him force the driver to release the animals.

Many of the animals were dehydrated, injured and suffering from a virus; at least 68 have been hospitalized, and one has died, the Associated Press reports. Video footage taken Tuesday showed the animals barking and whining in cramped metal crates.

“They were squeezing and pressing on each other and some were biting and fighting, and I saw some were injured or sick,” said Li Wei, manager of Capital Animal Welfare Association and one of the people who participated in the rescue. Li said at least one dog had died in the truck.

The rescue was remarkable on several levels. It was a rare successful case of social activism in China, a sign that new sensibilities are rising when it comes to dogs, and that the traditional practice of eating them is, for many, intolerable.

China has no animal protection laws for dogs or livestock, but animal welfare movements are growing there and in much of Asia.

The activists reached an agreement with the driver to purchase the dogs for about $17,000 dollars — most of which was contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation, Li said.

AP reports that dozens of volunteers have flocked to the Dongxing Animal Hospital in Beijing where they are helping to clean cages and mop floors. Sixty-eight dogs were at the hospital, many of them bandaged and hooked up to intravenous drips. Most were severely dehydrated and some had parvovirus.

The rest of the dogs have been taken to a property on the northern outskirts of Beijing where Li’s group is caring for them.

“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,” said Chen Yang, 30, a woman who tended to a dog that had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue.

The volunteer response indicates a growing awareness for animal rights, said Lu Yunfeng, a sociology professor at Peking University.

“Dogs were historically on the food list in China and South Korea, while they were loved in Western countries,” Lu said.

But in China, “as people became well-off, they had money to raise dogs, and while raising these dogs, they developed feelings for dogs,” he said.

The real million dollar dog

NPR’s Scott Simon took up the subject of dogs today — specifically, those two tsunami survivors we first showed you four days ago.  (Here they are again, above.)

They were caught on camera by Fuji TV in Mito, Japan – the brown and white dog seemingly guarding over the apparently unconscious other one, and placing its paw on the other’s head when it finally stirs.

The heart-wrenching images quickly spread around the world on YouTube, and the lack of any confirmed reports on what became of the dogs left many wondering, and trolling the Internet for information.

Simon reports, as others have — based primarily on a Facebook posting by Kenn Sakurai, the president of a dog food company, who has been among the volunteers –that both dogs were rescued and are in a veterinary clinic in the Ibaraki Prefecture.

Simon’s interpretation of the scene, like most, was: ”The dog was sticking by his friend, and asking for help.”

It was similar to what he saw with humans, he says, while covering Hurricane Katrina: “…It seemed that the commonest reason people who stayed through the storm gave for refusing to evacuate was, ‘I couldn’t leave my pet.’

Simon goes on to say: “Among the thousands of volunteers who have been mining the rubble of the earthquake are Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support, who look and listen for dogs and cats among the ruins. To those who might find such relief work frivolous when so many people are hungry and homeless, Animal Rescue and Support says, ‘helping the pets in Japan is to help people. All of us who are animal lovers can relate to what it would feel like to be reunited with a pet after a disaster.’”

While dogs go homeless in Japan, Simon notes, it’s business as usual in China, where Tibetan mastiffs continue to bring in huge bucks. An 11-month old Tibetan mastiff puppy named Hong Dong, or Big Splash, sold last week for $1.5 million, the highest price ever paid for a dog (unless you count cloning).

In China, Simon says, “Tibetan mastiffs are massive, fluffy status symbols … Hong Dong has been raised on beef, chicken, abalone, and sea cucumber. His breeder told Britain’s Telegraph, ‘He is a perfect specimen.’”

Simon concludes the piece by asking this question: “The million-dollar puppy that’s been fattened with abalone, or the grimy dog with brown and white splotches who stood over his friend until he found help: which do you think of as a perfect specimen?”

I’ll have to go with the grimy, wave-tossed mutt who has made a far bigger splash than Big Splash  — and who is a symbol of something far more important than status.

Wild: The latest grooming craze in China

In what’s being described as the latest pet craze in China, dogs are being groomed and dyed to resemble other animals.

You can probably guess what we — being proponents of letting dogs be dogs –think of this. As if humanizing weren’t bad enough, now we’re subjecting them to tiger-izing and panda-izing?

Visitors recently gathered at a local pet market in Central China’s Zhengzhou city to view and photograph dogs who’d been trimmed and painted to resemble pandas and Siberian tigers, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette.

True, both those species are endangered in China, but that’s no reason to dress dogs up to fill the void.

China has also been big on dyeing dogs unnatural colors. Both fads are believed to have started off in the good old USA.

Tibetan earthquake also took toll on mastiffs

The earthquake in northwest China that killed more than 2,000 people and left an estimated 100,000 homeless also took a huge toll on Tibetan mastiffs.

Officials say that 300 Tibetan mastiffs were crushed to death in the small Tibetan town of Yushu when their kennels collapsed in, and those that survived have been running wild and terrified without their owners.

Yushu, the breeding center for Tibetan mastiffs,  is believed to be home to as many as 20,000 members of the breed. 

The dogs — a status symbol in China, where they can sell at upwards of $100,000 — were once housed in elaborate kennels that lined the only road on the edge of the town. Now, the Times of London reports, they, like their human masters, are homeless.

The relief effort has seen about 8 tons of dog food have arrived in Yushu, where all local supply shops were razed in the earthquake.

(Photo: Joe Chan / Reuters)

Tibetan mastiffs all the rage in China

tibetanmastiff

 
China’s hottest dog won’t fit in your lap, drools copiously and was once banned by the Communist party.

With pet ownership booming in China, the must-have dog for the ultra-rich is the Tibetan mastiff — a breed the Communist Party once deemed bourgeois, the Associated Press reports.

How much times have changed was evident at the 6th annual China Tibetan Mastiff Expo this past weekend, where hundreds of the massive dogs were on hand, parading down catwalks like fashion models and strutting their high-priced stuff.

Some carried the names of wealthy Americans like “Warren Buffett,” while others were called “God,” ”Prince,” and “King”  – the latter so prized that one breeding session with him costs $40,000.

“I used to invest in German shepherds, but Tibetan mastiffs are what’s hot right now,” said King’s owner, Sui Huizheng, a businessman who has about 20 of the dogs.

Breeders in China say adult Tibetan mastiffs sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and can even go for more than $100,000.

One of them sold for more than half a million dollars last year to a woman in northern China who then sent 30 black Mercedes-Benz and other luxury cars to fetch the dog from the airport, according to a report in the state-run China Daily.

Tibetan mastiffs, most recognizable by their mane-like hair, can grow to 180 pounds.

After splurging on real estate in Australia, American thoroughbreds and European designer fashions, China’s rich see the Tibetan mastiffs as a new status symbol, the Associated Press reported, and among the must-haves for rich men in northeast China, the official Xinhua News Agency recently said, are a young beautiful wife, a Lamborghini and a Tibetan mastiff, “the bigger and more ferocious the better.”

(Photo: A Tibetan mastiff in South Korea — one who happens to be a clone. By John Woestendiek /ohmidog!)

Eating dog could be outlawed in China

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The centuries-old custom of eating dogs in China could become a crime under a proposal that is expected to be sent to the National People’s Congress in April.

What would be the nation’s first law against animal abuse would fine anyone caught eating dog or cat up to  5,000 yuan and up to 15 days in jail. The law would fine “organizations” involved in the practice between 10,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan.

Dog is an age-old delicacy in parts of China, especially in the frigid regions of northeastern China. Nationwide there are dog farms where animals are raised for their meat ande fur.

The proposal comes as a new generation of rich, pet-loving urban Chinese comes of age, the Times of London reports.

Earlier attempts to draft an animal welfare bill in China were dropped after public complaints that human rights should be perfected first.

Dog meat, as in some other Asian cultures, has long been promoted by practitioners of traditional medicine for being high in protein, boosts energy levels and increases male virility.

One waiter at the Cool Old Lady Dog Meat Restaurant in the northeastern city of Shenyang said animal protection awareness was altering popular attitudes about eating cat and dog, according to the Times story. “Personally I think these two animals shouldn’t be food. They’re lovely. I just work for this restaurant to make a living, I have no choice. If the law is passed, I think our restaurant will sell other dishes.”

In recent years, animal rights activist groups have sprung up in many Chinese cities, fighting to halt mass shipments of cats and dogs, crammed in wire cages, from the north to the markets and restaurants of Guangdong. Activists have published photographs on the internet to raise awareness of the fate of the cats.

(Photo: Dogs being sold for meat at Moran Market in South Korea/by John Woestendiek)

Dogs from around the world headed to Haiti

Dogs from New York City and around the world are being sent to help in the search and recovery effort in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The U.S. government is sending two, 72-man search and rescue teams with dogs to help dig out survivors, said Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Business Week reports.

French teams with “sniffer dogs” were seen boarding vans yesterday, headed to the airport on their way to Haiti. China dispatched a chartered plane containing multiple sniffer dogs and 10 tons of tents, food and medical equipment. A team from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations left Moscow, also bound for Haiti, Discovery News reports.

Elsewhere, dogs were departing from Peru, Taiwan, Mexico and Britain, where a 64-member team, including dogs and handlers was en route.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has sent at least six dog-and-handler teams have been sent to Haiti.

“Our hearts go out to our neighbors in Haiti, and we’re honored to be able to help find survivors of this terrible tragedy,” NDSDF executive director Debra Tosch said. “This is the day that our teams have trained for; when the unthinkable happens, SDF Teams stand ready to respond, bringing hope and comfort to victims and their loved ones.”

First swine flu found in dogs in China

The first cases in the world of H1N1 influenza virus in dogs have been reported in Beijing, according to the China Daily News.

The virus found  was a 99-percent match for the flu currently infecting humans, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, which announced the canine infection on Saturday. The infection is believed to have been passed to the dogs by infected people. Health officials in China assure that infected dogs are “no risk to humans”

While dogs are susceptible to their own form of influenza virus, called canine influenza, the cases in China are the first documented ones of  the H1N1 virus strain, or swine flu,  infecting canines, according to Examiner.com

Canine influenza virus is said not to be transmissible to people, though it is easily passed from dog to dog.

The H1N1 virus has been found in many species, including pigs,  ferrets, cats and people.

Officials stated the virus will become a threat to people only if it mutates.

Pong Pong and Wow Wow go for groceries

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A stroke victim in China has trained his two terriers to do his shopping.

Sun Chien, 76, built a cart for his dogs, Pong Pong and Wow Wow. They push it to the shops, along with money and a shopping list, then return home with the groceries, according to the UK Metro.

“I used to pull an ordinary cart with me to get my shopping home. Then one day, Pong Pong suddenly stood up on his hind legs and tried to help me to push,” said Sun.

That gave him the idea to build them their own terrier-sized cart.

“Now they’re so good they don’t need me with them. If one gets tired, he hops in and then they swap over,” said Sun, who lives in Shenyang.