5,000 Dogs, Other Animals Likely Bought Online Found Dead in Shipping Boxes

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2 min read

“It was like a living hell.” That’s how one witness described last week’s scene at the Dongxing Logistics station in central China, where at least 5,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals were found dead. “[T]he entire place reek[ed] of rotting bodies,” she said.

The animals—who, according to reports, had likely been bought online—were stuffed into plastic or metal cages that were packed in “express boxes” and transported like commodities. They were left in the cardboard boxes without any food or water for roughly a week before being discovered.

One witness accused the logistics company of perhaps refusing to sign off on the shipment, and a miscommunication may have been what ultimately led to the heartbreaking neglect.

Of the more than 5,000 victims, some 200 rabbits along with 50 dogs and cats reportedly survived. For the thousands who didn’t, it’s sickening to consider the pain and fear of their final moments—they were surely starving, dehydrated, and suffocating.

While certainly heartbreaking, it’s not shocking that the pet trade leaves dead animals in its wake.

What is shocking, though, is that humans still purchase dogs, cats, or other companion animals online (or buy them at all), knowing that millions of animals—of all species, sizes, ages, personalities, and energy levels—are already sitting in shelters, hoping to be adopted.

Dogs flown from a breeder in Jordan died at an airport warehouse in Chicago, a California man bought a 12-week-old Yorkshire terrier from an Ohio breeder and the dog arrived in Los Angeles dead in a crate, and sick and injured mice and guinea pigs have been found at PetSmart stores—this incident in central China isn’t uniquely cruel.

Animals in the pet trade endure unimaginable horrors before they’re sold at stores—for breeders and pet stores alike, profit is priority. And the best way to take action is to refuse to shop anywhere that sells live animals.

As if animals dying in cardboard boxes at shipping facilities weren’t a sufficient reason to shun the pet trade, there’s a massive companion animal overpopulation crisis plaguing the world, and it’s resulting in full shelters as well as abandoned and homeless animals who struggle to survive. So if you’re planning to add a dog, a cat, or any other companion animal to your family, please, only adopt—never buy.

Meet the dogs, cats, rabbits, and other companion animals available for adoption from PETA:

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