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Park guards help cat dealers in secret trade

STRAY cats are facing a "massacre" this autumn as cat dealers are working with security guards in parks to secretly trade them and put them on dinner tables, animal-welfare volunteers warned.

"These cats are allowed to breed freely in the parks and some local communities, but what people don't know is that the small kittens are only raised like pigs to be slaughtered," said Alex Zhou, a member of the newly established non-government organization Small Animal Protection Volunteer Group (SAPVG).

"Once there are enough cats in the autumn, the cat dealers will round them up. It's like a harvest," he said.

The volunteer group has investigated several local parks, including Changfeng Park in Putuo District, Caoxi Park in Xuhui District, and Huaihai Park in Huangpu District. To their surprise and anger, they have found that the parks' guards are not really providing free shelter out of kindness. They found the guards are secretly doing some "dirty business" under the guise of a "kind heart."

Zhou said their volunteers have witnessed some guards taking bribes from cat dealers to allow them to enter the parks late at night to catch stray cats. Other guards even joined the cat dealers to get an extra cut.

Although staff workers at the parks all denied the existence of such dealings, volunteers from another animal protection group started protesting at the entrance of Caoxi Park in June. They are protesting the park's alleged underground cat trade.

But with no laws or regulations to protect stray cats, the protest has fallen on deaf ears.

SAPVG volunteers also speak out about another serious problem - cat abuse.

Zhou said as people's living standards rise they seem to be less tolerant of stray animals.

"Some people pay so much attention to the environment they are living in that they will try everything to get rid of these stray animals, which they believe are wasting resources and damaging their homeland environment," Zhou said.

Zhou said he was specifically talking about the "angry cat" incident last month.

Volunteers saved it from the hands of several armed security guards that wanted to "get rid of it."

Volunteers said the cat was very tame and friendly, nothing like the "angry, fierce, human-biting beast" that was described in newspapers.

The cat earned fame across the city after major local newspapers dubbed it "angry cat," a name derived from the popular iPhone game "Angry Birds."

As for the cat, it was said to have been ambushing people at the entrance to a residential building at a community in suburban Yangpu District, attacking residents for months to avenge the deaths of its eight kittens that were killed by a car.

Labeled as a "dangerous and frightening beast" by newspapers, the cat was about to be caught and killed by community security guards, who were irritated after they were blamed by the public for not stopping the cat from harming residents.

Volunteers rescued the cat in the middle of the night on August 25, several hours before officials could get there.

Zhen Yinan, another member of the group who participated in the rescue mission, said: "When we rushed to the scene and tried to put it into the cage, it stayed calm and didn't bite or scratch any of us, although we were wearing thick gloves as a precaution."

"Since we've had it at our shelter, it's never caused any problems or shown any anger to our volunteers."

Meanwhile, an investigation into the community carried out by the volunteers found that the "angry cat" was actually rather tame and was loved by many residents. Some had nicknamed it "No. 8" and even built it a little apartment.

Security guards with the community later told volunteers the cat only attacked one resident, who had beaten it and killed its kittens. This resident had contacted the media for help.

"Apparently she distorted the truth, inviting media to get rid of the cat," Zhen said. "It's difficult to believe that some people hate stray animals so much."

But there are even worse cases.

On August 27, a 10-year-old boy killed five baby kittens in front of their mother by throwing them into the sky like toys in a community on Gaoping Road, Zhabei District.

The incident sparked a heated discussion among residents. Some complained about the rising number of stray cats and dogs, which can create a lot of noise and excrement in neighborhoods, demanding government authorities get rid of them. Others ask for more sympathy and tolerance towards the helpless animals.

Zhou said: "What we need urgently are laws and regulations to manage the stray animals wandering in the city before people hurt them or they hurt us."

The volunteers also said there has been some good news.

They said Daning Lingshi Park in Zhabei District is planning to work with animal protection groups to set up a cattery, where cats may live in an isolated part of the park. The volunteers said they believe this could be a new beginning for stray cats.


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