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Truck Filled With 180 Dogs Headed For Slaughter Is Literally Stopped In Its Tracks

<p> Shenyang Activists, 2015<span></span> </p>

One-hundred and eighty dogs on their way to a slaughterhouse in China were saved Saturday, after their truck was intercepted by animal activists.

Shenyang Activists, 2015

Animal lovers spotted the truck - filled with golden retrievers and other breeds - on the highway, said Peter Li, associate professor of East Asian politics at the University of Houston–Downtown and China policy specialist for the Humane Society International.

Li, who's been in touch with the Chinese activists, told The Dodo that they immediately sent text and WeChat messages to other activists, and, eventually, caught up with the vehicle and surrounded it.

"Then they mobilized nationwide activists to call local law enforcement to stop the truck," he said. "At the same time the activists went to see [the] local animal quarantine inspection office to verify if the truck driver had the proper documents for trans-provincial dog shipment."

The truck driver did not. Chinese regulations demand that for shipments between provinces, quarantine inspections issued by veterinarians must accompany each dog. But in this case, the driver produced one certificate for all 180 dogs, the activists told Li. Furthermore,the certificate said the dogs were all strays from Tibet and being shipped for farming purposes.

According to Li, Tibetans do not eat dogs.

The truck was on its way to one or more slaughterhouses in Jilin, says Li; the area is a Korean stronghold and dog eating is quite common in the region. Two slaughterhouses in the area kill some 146,000 dogs a year, he adds. (See New Republic's "Horrifying Photos of China's Dog Eating Festival - and the Activists Who Are Trying to Stop It.")

Shenyang Activists, 2015

Li says the dog meat trade is increasingly becoming a divisive issue in China. Last year, Chinese activists succeeded in stopping 16 trucks in North China, rescuing more than 8,000 dogs, says Li. He believes this demonstrates that "the conflict between the nation's rapidly expanding animal protection community and the dog meat traders was reaching a breaking point."

Animals Asia told The Dodo that as many as 10 million dogs are brutally killed in China each year for the meat-trade. "Every year in meat markets throughout China, millions of dogs and cats suffer a lingering, violent death, as they are either bludgeoned over the head, stabbed in the neck or groin and bled out, hanged, electrocuted or thrown conscious into vats of boiling water," the organization writes.

Animals Asia also notes that animal welfare groups and individuals are acting on behalf of dogs' well-being in China with more frequency, and cited a number of similar cases in 2014 with activists chasing down trucks filled with dogs heading to slaughter." According to the group, a number of those dogs were found to be family pets.

Shenyang Activists, 2015

When Chinese animal welfare groups saw the 180 dogs this weekend, they say the animals appeared hungry, thirsty and exhausted from days on the road.

According to Li, the dogs are alive and at the Shenyang Police Shelter. They are currently being fed and receiving medical treatment. Their ultimate fate, however, is uncertain.

This post has been updated to include the number of dogs slaughtered annually in the meat trade.