By TOM GARDNER
Barbaric: The dogs were discovered crammed into tiny cages on the back of a truck in Kunming, China
Crammed into tiny cages and enduring appalling conditions, these dogs had been destined for restaurant tables in China. But they were saved from that fate after activists intercepted the truck carrying them.
Many of the 505 creatures had barely survived their terrible ordeal, having endured cramped conditions and a lack of water during their near 1,000 mile journey by road.
But rescue came too late for 11 dogs which had succumbed to dehydration and exposure. The driver, who was questioned by police, said he had been employed to take the animals from Mianning county, Xichang city in the southwest of Sichuan province,to restaurants in Yulin city in south China's Guangxi province.
Volunteers provided the dogs with water and food which they had been deprived of because of the narrow space in the truck.
The trade and transportation of animals in China has come in for criticism by campaigners in the West.
Cruel: Many of the animals, thought to be destined for a restaurant, were suffering from dehydration when they were saved
Suffering: Activists arrived too late to save around 11 of the dogs which had already died under the terrible conditions
Saved: Volunteers provided the dogs with water and food which they had been deprived of because of the narrow space in the truck
Rescue: The activists stopped a truck carrying 505 dogs on Puji road on Thursday evening
Some of the huge markets which sell dogs and cats to restaurants for slaughter and human consumption, came under international spot light several years ago after being the suspected origin of the deadly SARS virus.
It is not uncommon for dogs, as well as other animals, to be crammed so tightly together into tiny metal cages they cannot even bark - an environment ripe for the spread of disease.
In one of the large markets, on a 60 acre site in Guangzhou, China, cages of dogs and cats - some of them bred as domestic pets - are piled high and when an animal is chosen for sale it is bludgeoned with an iron bar until it is close to death before, being handed over to the purchaser.
Business: The dogs in this case had a fortunate escape but the trade in dog meat means many more animals are not as lucky
Sickening: Many of the animals showed signs of the appalling conditions in which there were transported - including dehydration and other injuries
Fate: The driver of the truck told police he employed to transport dogs to a restaurant in Yulin city in south China's Guangxi province