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5 Feb, 2015 02:48

Buried alive? ‘3 tons’ of smuggled cats dumped in mass grave in Vietnam

Buried alive? ‘3 tons’ of smuggled cats dumped in mass grave in Vietnam

Thousands of cats smuggled from China have been buried by Vietnamese authorities, many of them reportedly alive, after a truck, which was illegally carrying the cargo to restaurants as feline meat, was intercepted by local authorities.

READ MORE: Off the menu: 600 plump cats escape slaughter after China truck crash

Police said on Wednesday that they had intercepted a truck carrying 3 tons of cats that had been stashed in bamboo baskets the previous week. The truck driver was issued a smuggling fine of 7.5 million dong ($360) – but for animals the story ended in a much more gruesome way.

“The cats were from China, with no official origin papers and no quarantine,” an unnamed police officer from the Dong Da district environmental police told AFP.

The officer was unable to confirm how many of the cats had been buried alive, but said that they had to be disposed of to ensure there were no environmental and health risks: “Several of them had died, there was a terrible smell that could affect the environment and carried risks of future diseases. Therefore, we culled them by burying them.”

Despite the 1998 law prohibiting the sale of cats as food, cat meat, locally known as “little tiger,” is still not hard to come by in Vietnam’s specialty restaurants, especially in the country’s northern part that borders China. The prohibition of the cat trade was implemented in order to save local crops from rats.

Animal rights activists have been trying to stop the cat culls in Vietnam. The Asian Canine Protection Alliance is one of the organizations behind the movement. It said that there had been “inhumane stories as to how the [cats] may have been destroyed,” urging authorities to end the cruel practice.

READ MORE: Animals in France finally recognized as ‘living, sentient beings’