Pet blind boxes of China and the courier ZTO who delivers them

I have just discovered it: Pet Blind Boxes, another aspect of cruelty to animals in China which utterly bemuses as me. I can’t get too involved in this cruelty because it is too objectionable but I have to report it. China has no law against animal cruelty. This allows the shipping of live animals through the courier system in China and these animals are surprise gifts under the label: Pet Blind Boxes. They are very cheap, 10 yuan, and clearly disposable. They are treated like any inanimate object such as a toy animal.

China: volunteers from a rescue organisation photograph pets in pet blind boxes on a lorry before I hope that they save them
China: volunteers from a rescue organisation photograph pets in pet blind boxes on a lorry before I hope that they save them. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As it happens the only reason why sending living creatures and companion animals in boxes via a courier system is illegal is because it is in breach of article 33 of the Postal Law in China. This law prohibits the posting and delivery in postal materials of various species of live animals. But for that postal law it would be entirely legal to post living animals in small boxes across China. Can you believe that? It is utterly barbaric.

Apparently this news has gone viral. A lot of people on social media are chipping in to say how inhumane it is. The animals are sold at discount prices and they are mystery animals so when people buy these pets they don’t know what they’re buying and I guess they don’t care because the prices are ridiculously cheap. The idea is to create a surprise. But often the animals are killed in transit and the overall level of animal care is way below what one would normally expect. The whole process is cruel and deeply flawed. The concept of buying animals blind online from an e-retailer is ridiculous. To think that somebody dreamt this up as a business model is mind blowing.

It shows an attitude in China which can only be seen as objectionable to all decent people. The courier business involved is ZTO Express. They are under fire after one of its business outlets in Chengdu, Sichuan Province was found to have transported kittens and puppies under this inhumane concept.

A spokesperson for ZTO has apologised as it breached their own rules. ZTO is a New York listed firm. They have shut the outlet, perhaps temporarily, for retraining. And the person overseeing safety has been suspended and his performance bonus has been deducted according to China Daily.

The “pet blind box” appears to be a developing trend. People can find pet blind boxes for sale on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Pinduoduo. The prices are unimaginably low such as $1.50 (10 yuan) or even lower for a pet dog or cat. Talk about devaluing the life of animals.

This horrible form of the e-commerce could only, I would argue, have been developed and thought of as acceptable in China. It’s exactly the kind of thing they get up to. I don’t want to sound racist. I’m not being racist. I’m being factual. This actually happens. Somebody thought that they could run a business by sending puppies and kittens in boxes across the country. A complete disregard for the health and safety of these animals. Many have died of dehydration and suffocation I am told. Unsurprising. But apparently completely disregarded by the proprietors of these e-commerce businesses.

China Daily confirms that many of these boxes involve a day of transportation across provinces which will invariably lead to the death of some animals because the boxes are small, cramped and completely unsuited.

Apparently the news has gone viral because the hashtag “pet blind box” has received more than 380 million views and about 100,000 comments on Weibo by Wednesday. One commenter summed it up by saying: “Both the sellers and buyers are bad to the core”.

Pet blind boxes advert. Advertising pets to be delivered in boxes by courier system under the pet blind box e-commerce scheme in China which is dramatically inhumane
Pet blind boxes advert. Advertising pets to be delivered in boxes by courier system under the pet blind box e-commerce scheme in China which is dramatically inhumane. Photo in public domain.

China Central Television, the state broadcaster, called the business a “departure from humanity”. A rescue organisation, Chengdu Aizhijia Animal Rescue Center, intercepted about 160 packages containing pets at a ZTO outlet. They said that they took control of the animals following health checkups by a local authority. They appear to be saying they did it to save the animals, which is common sense. Apparently they stormed a lorry and demanded that the driver unload the animals. Puppies could be heard barking in distress.

Some volunteers who carried out the rescue fear retribution from sellers. They said that four dogs and cats were found dead and dozens were diagnosed with diseases indicative of appalling breeding practices. The life journey that these animals have to endure from beginning to end is sickening. There are breeders out there creating these animals in large numbers to be sent in boxes as if they are toys.

In fact, on Amazon, you can buy pet blind boxes but there are toys inside. These live animal traders have picked up on that concept and turned it on its head. One volunteer from th rescue organisation said: “The business is everywhere. My colleagues and I kept sending enquiries to customer service personnel of such shops, and many said they can still send out pets using courier services.”

What we see is the tip of the iceberg. The practice still goes on. The cruelty appears to be everywhere. ZTO can do what they did but it appears to be a pretty insignificant step to stop this inhumane trading.

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