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A criminal gang has been arrested in China after they were found to be luring cats with protected live sparrows to sell them in the brutal meat trade. Members of the gang in Jinan in the Shandong province were arrested by local police, according to the Chinese animal protection group Vshine.

Source: VShine/HSI

Authorities confiscated 31 sparrows, which are protected in China, along with 148 cats that were crammed into seven cages and two kittens that were born post-rescue. The Jinan Zhuang Qiu District Police Office said that the gang’s mopeds were fitted with cages so that they could capture local pets and community cats. The gang would place sparrows inside a wire bag inside a remote-controlled trap to catch the cats.

Although there are no animal protection laws that they can use to prosecute the gang for cruelty to the cats, Chinese law prohibits possession of the protected sparrows. In addition, two local Jinan residents identified their stolen pets among the hundreds of cats in the cages. The individuals were arrested and now face charges of property theft.

The cats were rescued and are not being cared for by Jinan activists and local shelter groups. Vshine is also looking after some of the cats at their shelters in northern China, which are partially funded by Humane Society International. Once the cats have been seen by a veterinarian, the shelters will determine the options for adoption. People will also be able to come forward to see if their missing cats were one of the hundreds seized. The street cats that would not adapt well to shelter care or home adoption will be released back to community carers. The sparrows who survived were released back into the wild.

Cats stuffed in cages

Source: VShine/HSI

Mr. Huang from Vshine, who was at the scene, said, “We had been tracking this gang of cat thieves and traders for a while and finally found the place they stored all the cats they stole from the streets. These poor animals were tightly crammed together in rusty cages waiting to be shipped off to south China to be killed for meat. It was shocking to see the state they were in, many of them emaciated and crying out.

Our discovery of dozens of live sparrows used as bait to lure the cats was also a big shock, but shows the lengths these ruthless traders will go to. We are really grateful that the local Jinan police accompanied us on the rescue and detained the cat traders. Although sadly the men responsible won’t face charges for the suffering they caused the cats, we are pleased to see the police increasingly using other laws at their disposal to crack down on this cruel trade.”

The majority of Chinese people do not consume dog and cat meat and have no intention of doing so. One disturbing element of the Chinese dog and cat meat trade is that many of the animals brutally slaughtered are pets stolen off the streets. Once they are taken, these animals are forced into tight cages and are transported long distances without food or water. Upon arriving for slaughter, these animals then bear witness to other cats and dogs being bludgeoned and boiled alive while they await their own torture. Despite the Chinese government issuing an official statement that dogs and cats are no longer considered livestock, this industry has not stopped. Sign this petition to ask the Chinese government to stop the slaughter of these dogs and cats once and for all!

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