Animal charities have reacted furiously after shocking images emerged of two dogs being beaten to death by a laughing mob in China.
After the animals, who lived on a nearby farm, strayed into the wrong area, they were hunted down by a crowd including twenty policemen and forty security guards, officials revealed.
Quite why such excessive force was needed to pursue the terrified animals is unknown.
Disturbing images have showcased how the creatures had stones pelted at them, were bludgeoned with spades in the street and were shot at.
The animal welfare group Peta told The Huffington Post UK that "the public should be outraged," by the shocking display of animal cruelty.
"Unfortunately, this type of abuse is completely legal in China, where there are no comprehensive animal welfare laws, and even though living with companion animals is becoming increasingly accepted in some areas, it is still a relatively new practice in the country."
The two dogs belonged to a local villager who used them to help guard his flock of sheep. Villager Dewei Hsieh told the CEN news agency that neither dog was a danger and had been well trained not to hurt people.
A police spokesman said: "As well as members of the public there were about 40 security guards and 20 policemen that took part in the hunt for the dogs. The policeman had guns and the locals had equipped themselves with spades.
"The brown-coloured dog had tried to hide in some long grass but it was spotted by the police and shot six times, we believe it was still alive after that and it was then chopped up by people hitting it with spades.
"The black mastiff managed to hide in a tent that was used to cover some building materials but it was discovered and chased out with stones, and once in the open it was also hit with spades and killed."
The disturbing images are just the latest in a whole catalogue of cruelty in China, highlighted by animal rights groups.
Earlier this year Peta revealed how animals, including family pets, are being skinned alive to supply China's fur industry.
Horrifying footage shows dogs, cats and rabbits struggling as workers methodically skin them alive.
Most sickeningly, some of the creatures can be seen still breathing after their fur has been peeled off.
China – the world's largest fur exporter – is put to shame in the haunting footage by undercover investigators, which has left animal activists sickened.
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