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2017-08-09 11:28:02

Twenty-four people suspected of poisoning close to 3,000 dogs and selling their meat stood trial Monday in eastern China’s Anhui province, state-owned newspaper Legal Daily reported.

Since 2014, the accused had allegedly been hunting dogs with poisoned darts in the rural areas around Hefei, the provincial capital. They drove around during the day when locals were at work and also stole chickens and other fowl. They later sold the dog meat at a market for 7 to 16 yuan ($1 to $2.40) per kilogram.

They stand accused of selling poisoned food, stealing, and covering up a crime. There are no laws governing the abuse of domesticated animals in China, and thus prosecuting the alleged thieves for the act of poisoning dogs itself is difficult. They are, however, being charged under laws related to health and safety.

“They’re getting these people on food safety,” said Mary Peng, CEO and founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services in Beijing. “You can’t just have poison and poisoned arrows — none of that is sufficient to bring charges. Instead, they’re in violation of the nation’s food safety law.”

Dog meat is legal in China, despite protests by international and local animal welfare groups, especially surrounding the annual dog meat festival in Yulin, in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Peng told Sixth Tone that regardless of the poisoning, meat from abducted dogs is often in violation of food safety regulations — they are often either strays that carry diseases or pets that have recently been given medicine.

The report did not say when the court expects to reach a verdict.

The current case in Hefei shares similarities with a May 2014 case in central China’s Hunan province.  Like the current suspects, the Hunan criminals hunted dogs — whose meat they hoped to sell — from the back of motorcycles, using bows to shoot poisoned darts. Found to have killed 974 dogs, 11 out of a group of 16 were sentenced to prison.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A dog’s eyes water as it sits in a cage in Chongqing, Jan. 16, 2012. VCG)