At least 5,000 animals were found dead in boxes at a logistics facility in Henan, China after they were transported for express delivery, a local animal rescue group said. They included cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits.
"We are in the middle of trying to save the lives of the surviving animals — mainly kittens and rabbits. They are currently under observation at local vet clinics," Dan, a volunteer for the animal rescue group Wutuobang, told VICE News.
According to Chinese newspaper Global Times, more than 6,000 tiny boxes containing animals arrived at the Dongxing logistics station in Henan's Luohe City earlier this month and they likely died along the way due to suffocation, starvation, or dehydration.
Dan told Global Times that the animals were placed in iron or plastic cages and then covered with paper boxes. They were reportedly left in the boxes without food or water for a week. They allegedly came from a breeding farm in the eastern province of Anhui, to be shipped out nationwide to buyers who ordered them online, Global Times reported, citing pet blogger Li Chade.
The founder of Wutuobang who goes by the name Sister Hua told CBS News that she suspects that miscommunication in the shipping company and the inconsistent implementation of shipping regulations may have led to the incident.
It is illegal to ship live animals through normal mail under Chinese laws. Hua said that the logistics company involved may have refused to carry out a shipment that violated transport laws, leaving the animals stranded.
Wutuobang managed to save about 50 cats and dogs and about 200 rabbits. Many of them were adopted and those that were critically ill were sent to veterinary clinics. The dead animals, on the other hand, were collected, disinfected, and buried.
Later on, Wutuobang learned of another set of animals being transported to the nearby village of Dameng. After 13 hours, volunteers saved about 1,000 more animals, about half of the animals in the second site, CBS News reported.
Photos and videos on social media platform Weibo show the animals inside boxes at both sites. The issue has gone viral, with many people talking about "the horrific animal abuse.”
“Lots of people are pointing fingers and blaming the express company for obvious reasons but shouldn't we look at consumers too?” one commenter asked. “If more so-called animal lovers educated themselves and adopted animals from shelters as pets rather than shopped for them online, we wouldn't be seeing this ugly scenario."