Beijing: A guide dog, whose abduction sparked an outcry in China, has been returned to its desperate handler with an apology note, state media reported on Wednesday.
Qiaoqiao, a seven-year-old Labrador was reportedly taken by a group of men on Monday, while being taken on a walk outside of the Chinese capital.
The story of her abduction and her blind owner Tian Fengbo's ensuing grief led to outrage among Chinese netizens. She was found yesterday with a letter in a plastic bag on her collar reading: "We were wrong... we beg pardon". Tian said he could 'barely eat or sleep' after Qiaoqiao went missing.
"Qiaoqiao always accompanied me. She was like a friend to me. Now I feel like I've lost a close friend," Tian told local media after the dog went missing. He said the dog had been living in his care for five years and has since become part of his family. Residents in the area where the dog was taken said that there have been a series of recent dog thefts.
The motive of Qiaoqiao's kidnappers remains unclear but it is common in China for pets to be abducted from the streets or even in the comfort of their homes, by dog thieves and sold to meat markets.
Dog meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian countries like China.
The incident began trending on China's popular micro- blogging site Weibo after news of the incident emerged, with calls for harsher punishment for Chinese dog thieves. "What kind of monster must you be to slaughter a blind man's dog," an angry netizen said. "Is this the kind of nation China aspires to be? Dogs are man's best friend, not food," said another.