UK & World News
China: Dogs 'Clubbed To Death At Abattoirs'
Animal rights campaigners have released pictures and video footage which appear to show dogs being clubbed to death at an abattoir in China.
Investigators for Animal Equality said they gained access to slaughterhouses in Zhanjiang and Leizhou, which it says are used, with others, to kill tens of thousands of dogs every day.
A video released as part of its Voiceless Friends campaign showed dogs kept in small cages, some stacked on top of each other.
One man is filmed beating a dog around the head before carrying its motionless body through a room, while other animals with their fur removed are seen lying on floors covered in blood.
One investigator described a slaughterhouse in Leizhou as an "open air prison" where dogs were provided with water but no food.
A spokesman for Animal Equality said: "The shocking images show terrified dogs kept in appalling conditions ... before being brutally beaten with wooden clubs and stabbed to death in full view of other dogs (which) await their turn."
British vet Andrew Knight, who is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, said "the method of killing used was shockingly cruel".
Dog meat is believed to have been eaten for thousands of years in China and is especially popular in the winter as it is believed to warm the body.
The meat, which some Chinese believe has medicinal properties, is sold for up to 40 yen (£4.20) per 500g at stalls in Zhanjiang, investigators said.
Animal Equality says more than 10 million dogs are killed every year in China, although other estimates put the number at closer to 16 million.
Many of the animals are thought to have been stolen from family homes.
According to Chinese media, a 2011 study by Guo Peng, a professor at the School of Philosophy and Social Development of Shandong University, found 88% of households in one rural village suspected their dogs had been taken.
More than 19,000 people have signed Animal Equality's petition, which urges the Chinese government "to prohibit and eradicate this cruel trade".