Puppies were stuffed end to end, belly to belly, head to foot inside of a shallow, rectangular cage that was sitting on the side of a busy street in Taizhou. There was roughly 16 little dogs in the two and a half foot long by ten inch high container, and they were packed in as [...]
Puppies were stuffed end to end, belly to belly, head to foot inside of a shallow, rectangular cage that was sitting on the side of a busy street in Taizhou. There was roughly 16 little dogs in the two and a half foot long by ten inch high container, and they were packed in as tightly as pigs being hauled off to slaughter. It’s needless to say that the puppies could not walk or stand up, and that they were pissing and shitting all over each other. I watched as they tried in vain to squiggle around in the close quarters, they may as well have been over-sized furry sardines in a tin.
This was the type of shipping crate that I’ve seen small animals being hauled in before in China. Often they’re used for puppies or cats, and they are packed in tight with a stick. There was another, higher cage next to the this one, and, although there was more space at the top, gravity pulled the half-dozen or so puppies that were in it down to the bottom in a big pile-up.
I talked with the vendor and acted as though I was interested in buying one of his puppies. He opened the top of the short cage, removed a few puppies, and placed them down on the street. Some of the ones remaining inside stretched out their paws and rolled over in the temporarily vacated space. The free ones pranced about, and the vendor told me that he wanted 200 RMB each. For this price I assumed he was selling them as pets, not meat.
The man selling them seemed to be from the countryside. I have not noticed him selling puppies around Taizhou before. I did not see a point in asking him about his puppy selling initiative as we previously had difficulty making the simplest of verbal exchanges mutually intelligible. But it was my assumption that he seemed to be working on the tail end of a larger operation. There were pups from multiple litters, but they all seemed to be roughly the same age. It was my guess that they probably came from a puppy mill somewhere and were trucked into town stacked up on a flatbed with a hundred other packed-full cages like cargo.
There is a very different concept as to what constitutes the humane treatment of animals in China than in the West. In fact, as far as I can tell this concept doesn’t really seem to exist at all. Paul Theroux theorized that the Chinese callousness in regards to poor treatment of animals may be the result of the fact that people here themselves often live in cramped and uncomfortable conditions — so how could they feel sympathy for an animal in a similar condition? But I’m not so sure about this. It’s my opinion that this matter isn’t this complicated: this is a culture that seems to struggle with the concept that animals are animate beings. Generally speaking, besides the dog nuts I truly can’t see much of a difference between how animals and things are treated in China. Chinese culture has many positive, hospitable, empathetic, and kind qualities, but compassion for the suffering of other beings does not seem to be among them.
This is another culture with another set of values and a different threshold which draws the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Dogs are traditionally food in China, and only very recently has the “dogs are people too” craze kicked in, so these animals are still often treated as livestock at best, vermin at worst.