Once considered a ‘fashionable’ breed in China, Tibetan Mastiffs – some of which fetched up to a rumored $1.6 million just a few years ago – are increasingly being found abandoned by their owners as the fad comes to an ugly end.
Abandonment might just be the tip of the iceberg, too. Earlier this year a truckload of 150 Mastiff’s were found making the trip to a slaughterhouse; owners had sold their ‘preloved’ family pets for $5, so they could be used for meat and leather. Luckily, the truck was intercepted by a team of animal rights activists who managed to pay to save most the dogs on board, although a third were already dead from the appalling conditions. Despite the practice being illegal, activists say that police rarely bother to intercept trucks or reprimand those involved.
Part of the reason for the problem is that not only are the dogs now considered a passé status symbol but they are also very expensive to keep, costing between $50 and $60 a day just to feed. As a result, most Tibetan Mastiff breeders have gone under, although many have attempted to keep their businesses afloat by loading the dogs with silicone, to make them appear more powerful, in a final bid to sell them off.
Mary Peng, the founder and chief executive of the International Center for Veterinary Services said of the craze:
“Ten years ago, it was German shepherds, then golden retrievers, then Dalmatians and then huskies. But given the crazy prices we were seeing a few years ago, I never thought I’d see a Tibetan Mastiff on the back of a meat truck.”
How to help the Tibetan Mastiff’s that have been discarded has been left up to the public. With no help from police or other government services, groups like Together For The Animals In China have started fundraising campaigns to help the breed escape the horrors of the dog slaughter trade. To help with these efforts visit their crowd funding campaign here as they continue rescue and vet care of these dogs. One can only hope that a beautiful and noble breed can one day live a life without the fear of being abandoned.