Shocking images show a golden retriever's injuries after the dog was allegedly handled with "excessive force" by airport staff.
According to Metro, the dog's 23-year-old owner says that his golden retriever, Er Mao, suffered severe injuries to its eyes and body after being manhandled by staff at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China.
Channel NewsAsia reports that the golden retriever escaped from its cage in the cargo hold of the plane during a flight from Shanghai to Wuhan.
In a post on the Chinese social media site Weibo, the dog's owner shared that the dog was discovered missing after the flight landed in Wuhan. The post has since been shared more than 130,000 times.
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"I was very worried because I remembered reading about cases online of dogs being beaten to death after escaping," the dog's owner wrote. "I asked the airport staff what to do, would it be beaten? The reply was not to worry, airport staff will not hit the dog and they would help to find it."
Eventually, the owner says that four male staff members from the airport returned his dog in a large net. The dog had bloodshot eyes and injuries all over its body.
The owner wrote that the injuries were "obviously from being beaten and not from falling," adding that a female staff member told him "in a huff" that it took employees more than two hours to catch his dog.
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"I was extremely angry and disappointed," Er Mao's owner wrote. "This was like having my own child hit and having the aggressors shirk the responsibility. I had no energy to argue with them, I quickly sent Er Mao to be checked. Its fur is long and hid its injuries."
The dog was taken to a vet following the incident. The vet shaved off part of the golden retriever's fur, revealing a number of injuries on its back, legs, head, and eyes. The vet told the owner that it looked as though his dog had been struck with a whip with spikes, or that an air gun may have been used.
"I don't know how airport staff can be so cruel in their methods towards animals brought by passengers," the dog owner wrote. "No matter what they should not abuse them like this. In this case it was early morning and there was only one flight left, so it would not have affected flight safety."
The owner added, "I hope China Eastern Airlines and Tianhe Airport would give me a reasonable explanation and stop shifting responsibility."
Tianhe International Airport later issued a statement regarding the incident, in which they said that emergency response measures had to be taken in order to catch the dog.
"In order to prevent the dog from running loose on airport runways or car parks, which could result in severe casualties, airport employees carried out restraining measures based on aviation laws and regulations," the airport said in the statement.
It is not clear how the dog escaped from its cage.