A mother dog that survived being sealed inside a cement block for more than two weeks in northern China is feared to have eaten her newborn puppy in a case that has prompted widespread fury.
The mother was rescued after 17 days being walled up on a housing estate in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, last Friday after a group of volunteers received a tip-off that a dog may have been trapped inside, according to the video site Pear News.
The animals were reported to have been trapped by a security guard after the mother, a stray, became aggressive towards people who approached its newborn puppy.
The rescuers borrowed tools to break up the cement that had sealed the animals inside a cavity and found a deep hole stuffed with rags.
They eventually found the mother dog, which was dehydrated and close to death, but there was no trace of the puppy.
“She looked like had not drunk water for a long time,” a volunteer said in the video. “We gave her water and she drank many bowls.”
The volunteer speculated that the puppy had starved because the mother had been unable to feed it.
But internet users had a more macabre theory as to why there was no sign of its body: the mother had been forced to eat its own child to survive.
The guard defended his actions, telling the video news site he had chased the two dogs into a hole in a wall and sealed it up after the mother bit several residents who came too close to the puppy.
But the rescuer urged people to behave reasonably towards problematic dogs: “If [the dog is] dangerous, it is best to call the police, rather than dealing with it yourself.”
The mother dog will be adopted after it makes a full recovery.
The guard’s actions provoked an outcry on social media with nearly all commenters condemning his actions.
“No matter whether you are a dog person or not, no one can tolerate such villainy,” the comment with the most likes on Weibo said.
“The guard is dangerous too, why not lock him up for 17 days as well?” the reaction with second highest number of likes added.
The guard is not known to be facing any action from police and there are no specific laws against animal cruelty in mainland China.
Despite the near-unanimous chorus of disapproval this case attracted, animal lovers in China often find themselves at loggerheads with other members of society.
One of the longest running controversies is the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which prompts frequent protests and rescue attempts from domestic and foreign dog lovers while its defenders say it is no different from eating beef or pork.