Chinese animal rights victory takes cats off the menu | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Chinese animal rights victory takes cats off the menu
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Tuesday February 13, 2007
China's nascent animal rights movement claimed a rare victory today after rescuing more than 400 cats that were about to be slaughtered for their fur and meat.
They were saved from a market in Tianjin after a standoff last week between 100 pet lovers and police which left one protester hospitalised.
Until recent years, respect for animal rights was almost non-existent in China, but the country's rising affluence has brought with it a pet-pampering middle class. Activists are becoming bolder, posting video footage of cruel treatment on YouTube and staging protests.
In the latest confrontation, 100 supporters of the "Love Kitty" group in Tianjin surrounded a market, where cats and dogs were being slaughtered. Many of the protesters were local people who had lost their pets and suspected the animals had been abducted by furriers. The police refused to support the animal protection group because there is no law in China against killing cats and dogs, and all the animal traders were licensed.
Lu Di, director of the Small Animal Protection Association, said: "The demonstrators were afraid that the killings were continuing behind the closed doors so they made their way inside. They found cats crammed inside tiny wire cages about 10cm [4ins] high. About 80 police officers arrived and there were scuffles. One man suffered a head injury and is still in hospital."
To avoid further clashes, the Hebei provincial government allowed the cats to be taken to Ms Lu's shelter in Beijing. It has been difficult for her small, non-profit organisation to cope with so many mistreated animals.