The latest pop-up animal craze in China called mystery blind-box involves the on-line buying and sending of live animals by post in sealed boxes.
The latest pop-up fad that has recently reared its ugly head in China is the mystery animal box craze also known as “blind-box” which is even causing outrage in China itself which isn’t renowned for its animal welfare outlook. The craze started when a company sold mystery boxes containing ceramic figurines, but as always unscrupulous traders got involved and incredibly decided it was not a problem to use live animals instead.
Unbeliveably, the new craze involves ordering a box on-line containing a mystery live animal inside which is then sent by post to you so that you can excitedly open it to see what type of animal you have been sent. You really couldn’t make it up, but some idiot has, and recently 160 suffering puppies and kittens were found in a courier vehicle in Chengdu province, some of which unsurprisingly had died. Other animals involved in the craze include tortoises, reptiles and small mammals like rats.
A local animal rescue centre, the Chengdu Aizhijia centre took charge of the animals and were treating 38 of them. A well known Chinese on-line e-commerce site named Taobao apparently has been advertising these mystery boxes.
Animal crazes keep on coming.
Throughout the last few decades there has been a constant stream of animal focused crazes whether it be mice dipped in vats of dye to make them colourful, themed animal cafes involving otters, big cats and monkeys or Neknominate involving eating live goldfish and other creatures.
We have had ‘pocket pets’, the popularity of which spread by social media all around the world with the obvious consequences. Then we had a celebrity led craze for “handbag” dogs which were just traditional toy breeds, but had to be carried in a bag instead of allowing them to be normal dogs. Not satisfied with handbag dogs someone had to go further by breeding miniscule dogs and invent the “Teacup” dog which literally could fit in a tea cup.
These fads and crazes keep on coming and as always at the expense of the animals involved and I dread what comes next.
The loopholes are threefold. It is not illegal to sell, import or take a dog abroad to have their ears cropped which has been the ludicrous situation since the Animal Welfare Act 2004 came into being. The BVA wants UK vets to report any incidents of ear cropping that turn up at their surgeries which should have been happening anyway.
The veterinary profession are only taking more interest because of all the campaigning by animal charities and the present level of public opinion has given them the confidence to do so. They have had sixteen years to point out the shortcomings of the law regarding ear cropping and take a lead on the issue but have kept in the background.
Vets need to speak out about animal welfare problems.
The veterinary profession themselves have pointed out that they should not sit on the fence over welfare issues or wait until public opinion reaches a point which forces them to live up to their supposed animal welfare credentials. But they continue not to heed their own advice. To quote the BVA Animal Welfare Strategy of 2016:
“If we do not speak out about systemic animal welfare problems or if we only do so reactively once a critical mass of favourable public opinion has been achieved, then this can lead to accusations of weak morality and, worse, complicity in animal welfare problems. There are risks if veterinary professionals are not seen to be advocates for animal interests when the rest of society is increasingly willing to be”.
The moral and ethical conundrum of certain procedures carried out by vets have dogged the profession for decades. A US study way back in 1989 (Herzog) questioned veterinary students on various moral, ethical and welfare issues which they had encountered during training which they felt worried or stressed about and amongst the most prominent were ear cropping, tail docking, de-flighting birds and declawing cats.
There is yet another petition.
It is difficult to gauge how concerned the public are. There was an online petition last year aimed at stopping the import of cropped dogs but this failed to get half of the 100,000 signatures required. There is now a new petition with BVA backing which seems to be faring better which runs until the 24 August 2021. Paradoxically there is also a competing petition to re-legalise cropping to benefit all the dogs that are presently unprofessionally cropped and save them suffering. Sensibly it has not attracted much support so far.
Although everyone is fixated on ear cropping at the moment, tail docking appears to also be on the increase and must have been spotted by UK vets so perhaps they could take a lead on this issue as well?