More than 160 puppies and kittens were found stuffed inside boxes in an unusual raid by an animal rights group on a truck in China, allegedly shipping them for a nationwide "mystery boxes" shopping craze.
Some of the puppies in the consignment suffocated to death in the completely taped-up crates while others managed to survive, breathing through loose packing, the group said.
The video filmed by animal rights group Love Home last week shows crates packed with plastic wedged over one another with a chorus of wailing sounds of months-old terrified puppies filling the scenes. Dozens of puppies peaked through tiny holes in the box for air when rescued after the late-night raid.
The animal rights groups said on Weibo they rescued "hundreds" of very frightened young puppies and kittens, many of which were on the verge of suffocating.
The volunteers said crates were packed with plastic sacks to disguise them as regular deliveries as shipping of animals is illegal in China.
The video of the animals in visible distress have sparked outrage in Chinese social media, as users were shocked to see that the animals have become victims of the growing shopping fad of “mystery boxes” in the country.
The craze of mystery boxes has turned it into a billion-dollar business. It is an e-commerce trend where recipients receive surprise items in a box, often at very low prices. It has become “addictive” due to low price and the items in the boxes are part of collectible series, Ding Ying, a professor, told People’s Daily.
According to reports, in recent weeks, some people have received dead puppies and kittens inside the mystery parcels, known literally as “blind boxes” in Chinese.
Love Home founder Chen Yunlian told state broadcaster CCTV that the people involved in the business are making “blood money.”
“I told the young man selling the animal blind boxes that he was making money at the cost of the lives of these animals," she said.
The delivery raided in Chengdu region by animal rights group was run by China-based ZTO Express, a delivery company, reported CNN.
According to Global Times, two companies involved in the incident have been fined 30,000 yuan (£3,302) and 50,000 yuan (£5,503) respectively for delivering the animals. An official of the Chengdu authorities said the matter would be investigated.
ZTO Express apologised for the incident, blaming the local express office for violating their rules. It said that the manager in charge of services in the region was suspended and they would improve the training procedure.