A man in Jiujiang, China, was reportedly caught hoarding 500 cats that he allegedly planned to sell to restaurants.
Chinese news sites reported that the man allegedly used caged birds and sparrows to lure the cats, notes the Washington Post.
The man, identified only as Sun, was arrested on June 11 following a complaint by an unidentified man that someone had stolen his pets.
Many cats were discovered locked in small cages inside a truck. Some of the felines were almost dead and barely mewing in the heat; there were other cats found inside a hut.
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According to a police officer, the man sold the felines for about $5 each.
Police plan to release the 500 cats if their owners do not come forward.
According to activists, about four million cats and over 10 million dogs are killed yearly in China for their meat. It is not illegal to eat dog or cat meat in China.
The Chinese city of Yulin hosts an annual 10-day dog meat and lychee festival in June. Cats and dogs are "brutally bludgeoned to death" at the festival, according to activists.
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The Humane Society International and other activist groups said in May that the practice of selling dog meat had been unofficially banned at the festival this year because of widespread outrage, but authorities have denied that the ban exists.
Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI, explained why the practice should be banned:
The truth is that eating dog and cat is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice even in Yulin, the home of the dog meat festival. Far from being vital to the Yulin economy or way of life, the dog meat festival is a national disgrace that tarnishes the name of the city around the world. Now is the time to end it.
Animal hoarding is not unique to China. Mark Vattimo and Christine Calvert pleaded guilty on June 12 to felony animal abuse charges after keeping over 170 Yorkshire terrier and Yorkie-mix dogs in their home and other locations, notes KGTV.
As part of their plea deal, Vattimo and Calvert will get three years probation, will attend counseling sessions, won't be allowed to own pets, and will have to turn over their motor home to the Humane Society for restitution.
According to Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy, the Humane Society was tipped off in January by a veterinarian who was concerned about the dogs living in a dark room in the couple's home. The room was reportedly filled with urine, mice and feces.