Punishing burglars is a common phenomenon that is practiced around the world but a Chinese convenient store owner went to the next level by punishing a rat that was caught “stealing” rice from his store in Zhuhai, China.
Lai Tiancai, owner of the store, said the rat had been caught by his staff. They then tied it with strings.
Strung up by its limbs, the poor animal had a sign hung around its neck which read, “I won’t dare do this again” and “Huh, is this the best you could do? Even if you beat me to death, I would not admit that the rice at your home had been stolen by me.”
Picture of the ill-fated rat then went viral on social media.
Heartbreaking :( Rats might not be as cute and cuddly as cats and dogs, but they feel pain and suffer all the same. https://t.co/MEqCrL0ycd— PETA Asia (@PETAAsia) January 26, 2017
In defense of his actions, Tiancai said, “It was just a rat and this was a small incident.”
The pictures were shared by a person named Jiu Lian Shan She Zhang on Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging website. The post read, “A friend of mine found a small rat in the warehouse of a convenient store. After [it] was arrested, it was shamed by a poster. Poor rat! How could it spend the Lunar New Year?”
The pictures received backlash on the website, where almost 6,000 people responded to the pictures and didn't find them funny at all. They expressed how disgusted they were by the display of the cruel act.
"Every ordinary thing has life, why torture a rat? If you were a rat, wouldn't you find this cruel after you were killed? Stealing rice is part of a rat's nature. It did it to survive," said a commenter.
Another person said, “You can kill (a rat), but don't torture it. Even though rats are harmful, please respect life.”
Jason Baker, Asia vice president of international campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, denounced the rat photos as a "sick stunt."
“The reactions made it clear that people don’t believe any animal should be treated like this. The inability to empathize with the plight of the most helpless among us quite rightly horrifies caring people everywhere and is a cause for concern in the community,” he added.
Researchers say that in China animal welfare is still at the early stage of development. Many Chinese celebrities including Jackie Chan have supported animal rights campaigns in order to create a gentle and kinder China.