Volunteers want tougher action against those promoting and earning money from animal abuse.
Chinese citizens have called for a comprehensive law to protect small animals, as more abused cats and dogs are rescued from the streets.
These domestic animals, mostly cats, were abused and abandoned after losing their “value”.
A volunteer from an animal protection group, Kang Rui, recently rushed a four-month-old feline to a veterinary clinic in Zhengzhou city of Henan province.
He named the male cat Jiufu, which means the Auspicious Nine because many believe cats have nine lives. Unfortunately, the cat died 16 days later.
Jiufu is the second cat Kang rescued in the same area within a month.
“The first one was thrown hard onto the ground and died,” said Kang, who checked the surveillance cameras upon discovering the dead cat.
“The place where Jiufu was abandoned has cameras, too, but we were unable to look at the recordings as we failed to convince a resident to help us,” he told Mengma News, a portal of Oriental Today daily.
Animals lovers face many obstacles in carrying out their rescue work to stop animal abuse.
Currently, cats and dogs are categorised as “personal property”.
Although some provinces and cities, including Beijing, have included an “anti-animal abuse” policy in local laws, there are no further details or the range of punishments.
In Beijing’s local laws, there is just one clause in its Animal Disease Control and Prevention policy stating owners could not abandon or abuse their animals.
“Many agree that having a set of anti-animal abuse laws would stop such cruelty,” said psychotherapist Wang Zeling, who studies the behaviour of animal abusers.
The flourishing video streaming industry in China has further worsened the situation, with viewers offering tips to unscrupulous hosts who livestream their cruel acts against animals.
These livestreaming hosts, whose income is based on rewards given by their followers, would fulfil their viewers’ requests in exchange for lucrative tips.
In a livestreaming session in August, a man — whose identity has yet be revealed — was goading his viewers and pointing his camera at a cat hiding in a corner, asking them what he should do.
Some of his viewers challenged him to use a stick and beat the cat while others asked him to pick up the cat and throw the animal onto the ground.
Such cruel acts were also recorded and the videos sold online.
According to investigative reports by the Legal Daily and Mengma News, the animal abuse video business is gaining traction and people are hired to do the editing, marketing and selling of it.
Mao Shitou was one such person. He used to be a salesperson for such videos.
He recalled the first time he watched a clip of a cat on a social media group he participated in; he wanted to make some money and got in touch with a man who agreed to recruit him to sell the videos.
“They would catch the cats on the streets or adopt them from animal shelters,” he revealed, adding that he stopped doing it after an undergraduate, Fan Yuanqing, was expelled from Shandong University of Technology for abusing a cat in April last year.
“The social media platform providers have intensified their surveillance on such videos and I have decided to stop,” he said.
One journalist purchased a video containing clips of cats being abused for just 40 yuan (RM26) through Mao.
“The extent of cruelty and methods used are far more than you can imagine,” wrote the journalist.
Wang Lin (not her real name), who runs a dozen animal protection shelters with her like-minded friends, said animal abusers and viewers have their own groups on the social media platforms.
“They are always on alert and have a list of questions to query newcomers before revealing anything.
“It is quite hard to trace them especially for ordinary people like us,” she said.
She added that there were also unscrupulous people who tried to make a quick buck by adopting animals.
“After that, they would threaten to abuse the animals if we do not pay the amount demanded by them,” she pointed out.
Wang, who started her small animal protection mission 10 years ago, has rescued many injured cats and dogs.
Animal lovers are calling for comprehensive anti-animal abuse laws which cover the protection, welfare and management of small animals, and to bring the violators to book.