WAN Exclusive With Humane Society International’s, Dr. Peter Li, About Rescue Of Nearly 400 Cats From Illegal Slaughterhouse In China
Exclusive photos shared with WAN by Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International
In a remarkable rescue operation, a covert coalition of animal advocates throughout China saved close to 400 cats from certain death from an illegal slaughterhouse in Tianjin.
While a relief, the plight of the cats and the heroes who saved them is far from over, as they continue to fight against and try to end the barbaric dog and cat meat trade that runs rampant across the country.
To delve deeper and help raise awareness about this lesser-known but equally harrowing aspect of the deplorable trade, WAN talked exclusively this morning with Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International (HSI).
Li explained that 375 cats crammed tightly together in 24 wire cages were discovered earlier this month by China Animal Protection Power (CAPP), a rescue group HSI helped to form in 2016, together with other activists from Tianjin and Beijing.
Li shared that CAPP is made up of action-oriented animal advocates scattered across the country that range in age from their mid-20’s to 30’s, ready to quickly mobilize when needed. He also emphasized the need to protect the identities of CAPP members from the “formidable evil force” of the Chinese dog and cat meat trade “that finds anyone they can to attack.”
That is why, Li told WAN, they never use members full names.
In this case, Li explained that Mr. Huang, a CAPP member, chaired the negotiation sessions with law enforcement and presented authorities with arguments against the slaughterhouse for food safety, public health, animal disease control policy, and criminal law violations.
As per Li, there are no animal protection laws in China, it is the environmental and health regulations that animal activists like CAPP increasingly use to persuade the police to crack down on the dog and cat meat trade.
Huang, who described the event as “heartbreaking,” was one of the first rescuers to arrive at the illegal slaughterhouse.
CAPP further reported that the cats at the slaughterhouse were in terrible condition, many emaciated and sick. They also found piles of cat hair outside, with the remains of thousands of cats that had been slaughtered at the site.
“The way cats are killed for China’s meat trade is notoriously brutal. They are grabbed around the throat with large iron tongs and then beaten over the head with a metal or wooden stick while their terrified cage mates look on. Some may still be conscious when they are thrown into a pot of boiling water to remove their hair,” noted Li, further explaining that the cats are disemboweled, beheaded, and de-footed to disguise the species, before being shipped to buyers. “This is the fate of an estimated four million cats a year in China, a mixture of stolen pets and urban strays.”
“If the authorities enforced existing food safety, animal disease control, and property protection laws, we would see a huge decline in China’s brutal dog and cat meat trade,” continued Li. “A legislative ban on the trade is our ultimate goal, but we don’t need to wait for that to make a difference. We just need police forces willing to act like this one in Tianjin.”
It has been reported that Tianjin police have received more than 1,200 phone calls from people across China urging them to crack down on this illegal slaughterhouse, an indication that news of the raid had spread on Chinese social media WeChat.
“While temporarily closed, activists are putting pressure on local government to shut down the slaughterhouse permanently,” said Li, who immediately began contacting local activists, organizations, and HSI partners, once he was alerted to the situation.
The rescued cats were subsequently handed over to Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA), one of the country’s most credible organizations. Among its many distinctions, CAWA helped stop the introduction of rodeos into the country in 2012.
While some cats are hospitalized, many have been sent to different groups, including ones in Beijing. Sadly, Li estimates that there are still approximately 200 in Tianjin that are waiting for safe accommodations.
“We always encourage adoption rather than purchasing dogs or cats from stores,” Li told WAN, explaining people interested in adopting any of the rescued cats should contact HSI which will then arrange to address the requests.
“Compared to dogs, it is much easier and less expensive to coordinate and facilitate adoptions of cats from China to the United States and around the world,” Li told WAN.
The illegal slaughter operation in Tianjin is now under police investigation.
People outside of China that are interested in adopting one of these precious cats, should contact Humane Society International at (202) 452-1100 or, from North America, at (866) 614-4371. HSI can also be reached by email HERE!
Donations to help the Humane Society International continue their important work can be made HERE!