Skip to main content

Were dozens of stray dogs buried alive in northern China?

By Wilfred Chan, CNN
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Members of the Yinchuan Stray Animals Home charity rescued 5 stray dogs who survived an apparent mass burial. Members of the Yinchuan Stray Animals Home charity rescued 5 stray dogs who survived an apparent mass burial.
HIDE CAPTION
Saved from burial
Saved from burial
Saved from burial
Attempting rescue
Attempting rescue
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Volunteers saw many dogs in a pit and helped save some of them
  • When a charity came to save the remaining dogs, the pit was filled with soil
  • The charity dug the next day and found 6 dead dogs
  • Many dogs still remain missing

(CNN) -- Chinese Internet users are expressing anger amid claims of as many as 100 stray dogs being buried alive in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China.

While no one is disputing there were dogs in the pit, no one is taking responsibility for how the dogs got there -- and now many dogs' corpses are nowhere to be found.

Desperate mission

It all began when pictures showing scores of dogs trapped in a deep pit began circulating on Chinese social media, with a message asking for help.

"I saw the pictures of the dogs in the pit from WeChat," a local woman, who asked not to be named, told CNN. "I and several other volunteers went to look for the pit and we found it."

Using ropes, the group managed to save 20 dogs Wednesday afternoon.

Stray dog runs 1,000-mile race
Dog guards owner's grave in China
The world's most expensive dog

"We first tried buckets and ladders, but nothing worked. Then we tied a knot to make a loop with a rope, dropped the loop into the pit, lured the dogs into the loop with food, and got them out of the pit with the rope."

With many dogs left in the pit, the volunteers contacted a nearby animal charity, the Yinchuan Stray Animals Home, for assistance. But when Yinchuan went to save the dogs the next morning, they found just a few dogs running around and barking.

To their horror, the pit had been completely filled in with soil. Lacking tools to dig, the team rescued the few dogs they could see.

"You could see the terror in their eyes and they were very afraid of people," said Liu, a Yinchuan volunteer.

"They wouldn't leave one another," said another worker, named Zhang. "They looked quiet and depressed."

On Friday, Yinchuan returned with an excavator and dug. They found six dead dogs -- but that left many dogs unaccounted for.

The volunteers theorize that the missing dogs were killed, then moved to a new site. If so, who could be responsible?

"Shameful"

After news of the incident broke, a furor was unleashed online, with the story shared and discussed thousands of times over the course of the week.

The large majority of users expressed rage at the incident, calling it "shameful" and "inhumane." Some called for the establishment of animal cruelty laws in China -- the country currently has no such laws.

Users accused local enforcement officials -- known as chengguan -- of burying the dogs.

But officials denied the accusations that they were responsible.

"Our investigation shows that what's spreading online is untrue," said a spokesperson named Wang from the publicity department of Axla Left Banner, an administrative division in Inner Mongolia.

Meanwhile, the local woman who helped save the first 20 dogs says she is reluctant to draw any conclusions, as the volunteers "only found six bodies."

Asked if she believed the remaining dogs were saved, she said, "I really don't know. I'm wondering too."

CNN Beijing intern Andi Wang contributed reporting.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:13 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
updated 3:42 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
ADVERTISEMENT