Chinese use live sparrows as bait to capture pets for the cat meat market

Like many others, I despair at the news stories emanating from China about the cat meat market. The latest story actually has a good ending which is very pleasing. It is also very pleasing to be told that the Chinese police rescued 150 cats headed for the dinner tables. On my experience reading about these stories, it is nearly always animal welfare volunteers who stop lorries travelling to the south with stolen cats and dogs for the meat markets. 

Domestic cats lured with live sparrows and caged for shipping to the south for the cat meat market
Domestic cats lured with live sparrows and caged for shipping to the south for the cat meat market. Image: Yahoo News!

But here we have the police being involved which may hint at a change in attitude by law enforcement. It also tells me that it is illegal to steal domestic cats and ship them off to the south to be eaten.

It may surprise people to read that but because there are no real animal welfare laws in China there is no law to enforce when there is animal cruelty. Perhaps the country has introduced some laws that I have not heard about. If so, they will be laws which are not directly about animal welfare but about shipping animals or transporting animals I suspect.

The cats in this instance were crammed into rusty cages as usual and they were found by police in the eastern city of Jinan in the Shandong province. The report comes from The Humane Society International.

This unscrupulous gang of cat thieves and smugglers placed sparrows in cages as bait and used a remote-control system to shut the traps as soon as each cat entered. Of course, many of the cats were in a terrible state being emaciated and clearly in discomfort or pain. You can see them crammed together which is totally unnatural and incredibly emotionally stressful. They must have been permanently terrified.

RELATED: Mumbai’s dog and cat meat eaters.

One of the volunteers involved in the rescue said "Our discovery of dozens of live sparrows used as bait to lure the cats was also a big shock."

They believe that most of the rescued cats were household pets. They've been sent to animal shelters. There were 31 sparrows. They are a protected species in China and they were released back into the wild immediately.

I'm told that the smugglers may be in breach of laws concerning the hunting of birds, property theft and for violations of animal epidemic prevention rules, which I believe concerns the transmission of zoonotic diseases such as Covid.

It is only in the south in China's Guangdong and Guangxi provinces where they eat cat and dog meat and this dates back thousands of years. These are the China hotspots for this barbaric business. Apparently throughout mainland China cat meat is not part of the food culture.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic must encourage cessation of cat meat trade.

Thanks to Covid-19 there has been a reduction in a desire to eat cat and dog meat because of a fear of acquiring a zoonotic disease from the unregulated slaughter of these animals. 

The Guandong cities of Shenzhen Zhuhai banned the consumption of cats and dogs from April 2021 but they are the first cities in China to do so. To the best of my knowledge, cat and dog meat is still a thriving industry but the sooner it is banned the better. It is horribly cruel and completely out of step with modern life in the West.

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