A beloved pet dog in China who was stolen by thieves and destined for the dog meat industry had a very lucky escape and managed to find his way home to his relieved owner after being missing for several days.

The dog’s guardian, Mr Xiao of Gaoping in Zhegiang Province, eastern China, said, “I didn’t expect it would come home again. I thought it lost forever.”

Mr Xiao told Chinese news website QQ.com that the family dog spent every night on the porch guarding his house, but when he woke up on the 12th of February his dog was gone. Upon checking footage from his home security camera he was shocked to see that someone had used a toxic syringe to poison and kidnap the dog.

Two days later, on the 14th of February, Xiao unexpectedly spotted his dog behind his house, but the animal was traumatised and ran away — only to return several hours later. Xiao said the dog was still dazed and unsteady on its feet, probably still suffering after-effects from the dart used to incapacitate him. He also reported that the dog was more nervous after his harrowing experience and lucky escape. Hopefully, Xiao will learn from this experience and now keep his dog safely indoors.

The dog meat trade is booming in China, with an estimated 10 million dogs slaughtered for food every year. Most of the dogs are taken off the streets or stolen from people’s homes.

In October 2017, Chinese police busted a gang that had allegedly sold 200,000 poisoned syringes used to sedate or kill dogs, often family pets. This method of capturing dogs poses a danger for the people consuming the dog meat, as residual amounts of the poison can remain in the animal.

In this case, Mr Xiao suspects that because his dog is quite thin, the thieves realised they wouldn’t get much money selling him for the dog meat trade — or were perhaps unable to sell it, and let it go. Whatever the reason, this is one lucky dog who managed to escape this horrific trade and be reunited with his grateful family.