Chinese netizens call for crackdown after ‘blind box’ pet rescue


SHANGHAI, May 6 (Reuters) – Chinese netizens have urged authorities to crack down on the illegal practice of delivering animals via “blind boxes” after local media reported that 160 puppies and kittens were rescued from a warehouse from Chengdu City on Monday. .

The animals were being held in boxes and disguised as regular express deliveries by local merchants selling pets online, CCTV and other state media reported.

They were ready to be sent all over China, including Shenzhen more than 1,700 km away, until animal welfare volunteers intervened, according to reports. Four animals had already died and many are infected with viruses, local media said, adding that law enforcement officials were investigating the case.

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“Refuse the transport of live animals!” said a netizen on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service as Xian-Jie-Po-Lie. “The stench of corpses produces all sorts of germs which contaminate surrounding packages…This is clearly an unlawful act which is being done for personal monetary gain.”

The courier company involved, ZTO Express (ZTO.N), issued a public apology on Tuesday. It has also suspended some local services and promised to “adopt effective measures” to ensure it complies with regulations.

A pet dog is pictured in a sofa while waiting to watch a movie at a dog cinema at the Cute Beast Pet Resort in Beijing, China December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The “blind box” phenomenon – in which consumers can buy unlabeled packages containing random novelty gifts from retailers – has become popular in China. They were also used to trade and deliver smaller animals like turtles, hamsters and spiders.

Sending any type of live animal violates China’s animal safety and disease control regulations, which were tightened after COVID-19.

“Buyers, sellers, retail platform and couriers are all guilty. I can’t imagine how anyone can do this,” said another Weibo user.

China’s animal welfare record has come under greater scrutiny over the past year, with many scientists and activists linking the global pandemic to cruel and often unsanitary conditions on its farms and its breeding facilities.

Beijing has since tried to toughen regulations on animal breeding and trade. Last April, the Department of Agriculture also reclassified dogs as pets rather than livestock, a move campaigners called a “game changer”.

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Reporting by David Stanway and the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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