Hundreds of diseased and dying cats packed inside a truck and allegedly destined for dinner plates at unregulated restaurants have been rescued by police.
Authorities in the city of Haikou, which is the capital of Hainan Province in China’s south, stopped the suspicious heavy goods vehicle hauling no fewer than 307 live cats last week.
The truck originated from neighbouring Guangdong Province and the driver was unable to produce a certificate of quarantine proving the animals had been checked, police said.
The vehicle was seized and the animals were handed to Hainan’s provincial Small Animal Protection Association, which housed the cats before having them treated and inoculated.
The not-for-profit’s deputy head, Wang Bing, told local media the animals were likely headed for unregulated market stalls and restaurants, which tend to purchase trafficked animals at low costs for use as foodstuffs.
“Thirty-two cats died during transport. We managed to save 275 of them,” Mr Wang said.
“Many were severely dehydrated or diseased. We suspect the trafficked cats were on their way to restaurants in the East Gate Market.
“This cat meat would’ve been sold without any quarantine certification, but there are still those willing to eat it.
“This is not only a risk to personal health, but also fuels the growth of black market industries.”
Wang Helan, who works in adoptions for the NGO, added: “The cats had been confined to extremely tight cages, so they’re not in very good condition.
“The majority of them are in a state of permanent fear.”
A volunteer told AsiaWire all of the surviving cats had either been permanently rehomed or fostered by local animals lovers.
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