HOHHOT, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The welfare of stray animals is in the spotlight once again, after around one hundred dogs were buried alive in north China.
A post on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, appealed for help on Wednesday night to save scores of stray dogs trapped in a big pit near a garbage dump in Alxa Left Banner, which is under the jurisdiction of Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
"Yinchuanshouhuzhedongwuzhijia," or "Home for Stray Animals in Yinchuan," a non-governmental organization (NGO), posted pictures of the dogs in the pit, including a close-up of a baby dog.
The photos were taken by a woman, surnamed Tan, who went to the site near Wuba Expressway with five friends on Wednesday afternoon to search for a pet dog.
"We saw around a hundred dogs in a pit, but we could not get down into it because it was too deep," Tan told Xinhua, adding that they tried to save the dogs using ropes. They saved more than 20.
She said that the dogs must have been in the hole for a long time, because they were thirsty.
A volunteer at the NGO told Xinhua that eight members of the agency went to rescue the dogs at around 2 a.m. on Thursday, only to find the pit had been filled. Several dogs were running around, said the volunteer, without giving her name.
"The pit was five to six meters deep. We could not dig as we didn't have proper tools," she said.
Another group of people went to the site at around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, but were unable to locate the pit, according to Su Yamu (not her real name). "We later found out that it had been filled," she said.
A number of dead dogs were retrieved from the pit at around 6 p.m. on Friday.
Rumors on the Internet said that the local Chengguan, or urban management officers, had buried the dogs alive, although the city management bureau denied such cruelty.
A member of staff with the bureau told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that they had caught dozens of stray dogs and put them in a rented yard because of complaints from residents that people and domestic animals had been bitten.
"We went to the yard after hearing about the reports, but only a few were there," she said.
She emphasized that bureau staff could not have conducted such acts because it could cause epidemics.
The Ta Foundation, a Beijing-based NGO for strays, has sent a letter to the local government to intervene, according to Su.
The incident has angered many, and a post about it had been forwarded more than 18,000 times by Sunday morning. Chinese netizens called the act "inhumane" and "shameful".
"Life is equal, how could thugs conduct such a massacre?" wrote a Weibo user with the screen name "MingyangsihaiUSA".
Stories regarding stray animals have made the headlines, causing a wave of public fury.
In May 2013, dozens of stray cats were abused and slaughtered in a residential district in Beijing, with the fur of the animals almost completely plucked out.
Five months later, a poster on a wall in a district in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, alleged that some people had deliberately put poison in the area and killed a dozen cats. The poster warned people to take care of their pets.
Su said, "The government should step in and tackle the problems regarding oft-neglected stray animals."