Twenty-six dogs, rescued from the clutches of suspected meat dealers, were found tied up in sacks with their mouths taped shut after a photo of three of the animals went viral.
The mutts, all aged between three months and eight years, were discovered living in terrible conditions in warehouses India, where the consumption of dog meat is illegal but still happens in certain areas.
The story started at about 10pm on Monday when animal lover Kasturi Das spotted three dogs stacked in cages in a car and became suspicious.
He took a photo and posted it on social media where it quickly went viral and attracted the attention of local police who sprang into action and soon tracked down the driver of the car.
After some interrogation the driver confessed he had been paid to transport an un-identified load and took cops to the warehouses.
The dogs, which were rescued from Jowai in Meghalaya, northeast India, were severely dehydrated and frightened when they were rescued.
Sub-Inspector Kiran Lyngdoh, who cracked the case, said: “The driver said three women had hired his cab for £17 and gave him £5 for each round and he had no clue what was in the bags.
He took us to three different locations. Once we reached them, we were aghast to see at least 23 dogs were holed up in a ridiculously painful manner.
“We nabbed three women and the driver immediately. Unfortunately, it is a bailable offence and we are working with lawyers to see how we can proceed in the case”
An animal right activist, who helped with the rescue but asked not to be named, said: “It was a depressing sight.
“In my decade old career as an animal rights activist, I had never seen such a horrific sight.
“The dogs were brutally packed in gunny bags (sacks) and tied with ropes so tightly that it took me at least 20 minutes to cut each one of them off. But by the time I reached the fifth dog, I had given up because I was worried for the health of other dogs.
“The dogs were scared and howling and whining. The look of fear in their eyes was devastating.
“It took me some time to comfort them. Their limbs were tied and mouths were shut so they cannot bark. The movement was restricted and they sat helpless.”
The dogs were were given food, water and medicines before being transported to Just Be Friendly, an NGO (non-governmental organisation) 99 miles away.
Dr Shashanka Dutta, veterinarian and founder of Just Be Friendly, said at the time: “They are doing well but are severely traumatised. We are doing every bit to comfort them.
“We have been giving them oral hydration and drips as required. They are safe now and started eating and are taking medicines.”
Seven of the dogs have already been adopted and the rest are looking for their forever homes.
Dr Shashanka added: “The dogs are recovering fast. They are very docile and seemed to be domesticated as they are well behaved. In many parts of the northeast, dogs are given food by local shopkeepers. It seems they were kidnapped from market areas.
“We do not run a shelter but since it was an emergency we had to bring them here to save them.
“Our place is small for a large pack of dogs. We hope that people will come forward to adopt these animals and give them a better life.”
The consumption of dog meat is illegal in India but that law is flouted in Mizoram and Nagaland where it is considered a delicacy.
Hundreds of dogs are killed for the meat trade in these areas as some consider dog meat to have high nutritional and medicinal value.
Many dogs are put alive into boiling water at markets so their skin and fur comes off and their meat is sold for £2 per kilogram.
Some families even eat their own pet dogs when they become old.
Date: 06 October 2017