The theft of a blind man’s seeing eye dog has woken up many in China to the problem of dog theft.

Qiaoqiao and owner

Qiaoqiao, a specially trained, seven-year-old Labrador, was being walked by her owner’s assistant on the street one morning when a van approached and thieves grabbed her. Dedicated and obedient, Qiaoqiao was not on a leash for that walk. Distraught, her owner called the police who quickly posted a message online, asking for public information and assistance. Late the next evening, Qiaoqiao was secretly returned with a note asking for forgiveness.

The reunion was one of the happiest of Qiaoqiao and her owner’s lives. Though she was nervous being outside for a few days, they have both recovered and are functioning normally as the inseparable team they have become.

A happy ending for Qiaoqiao and her owner, but many more dogs are at risk.

The Beijing Public Security Bureau has identified Qiaoqiao’s theft as part of a trend of organized crime involving stealing dogs for meat. Countless stories of stolen dogs, friends lost forever, have been reported. There are reports of dogs being captured with a steel fork that extends from a passing van, or through the use of poison darts. Because of the high costs of large scale dog farms — facilities, breeding efforts, and disease — there is more profit to be gained by the napping of dogs from the street and homes.

The dog meat trade is rampant in China, with around 10 million dogs slaughtered for food each year. Once acquired, the dogs are subjected to squalid conditions, beatings, and an eventual end that may include being boiled alive. Animals Asia investigations have found that, though some attitudes are changing, the dog and cat meat industry and criminality that surrounds it is alive and strong.

Due to the hopelessness of many missing dog cases, not everyone reports these thefts. But Qiaoqiao’s story has gained international attention, attention that cannot be ignored by Chinese authorities. The anger has caused many to speak out. The request for information on Qiaoqiao was retweeted 10,000 times, showing people’s growing concern and outrage for this cause.

What can you do to help stop the dog meat trade and thefts of dogs like Qiaoqiao?

Last Chance for Animals – Stop Dog Meat petition:

Animals Asia – Get Involved: