Warning: Distressing Images
At least 5,000 cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals have been found dead in cardboard boxes and packages in China.
Heartbreaking photographs have been posted online showing piles of boxes filled with pets at Dongxing logistics station in Henan Province earlier this month.
According to a pet blogger, the animals originated from a breeding farm in China's Anhui Province, and were loaded onto three trucks and transported to a logistics station in Zhengzhou on 17 September.
From there, they were then dropped off at the logistics station in Luohe, with some dying en route.
It's believed, however, that the majority of the animals died on 22 September.
Around 20 members of the animal rescue group Wutuobang rushed to the station to try and save the helpless pets after being tipped off by an unnamed source.
Speaking to Global Times, a member of the rescue team, Dan, said they did manage to save some of the animals.
He told the publication: "We rescued about 50 cats and dogs as well as 200 rabbits, but it was fewer than five percent of all animals there.
"The stinking boxes cluttered the station, and lots of animals inside had died of suffocation, starvation or thirst."
Speaking to CBS News, Sister Hua, the founder of animal rescue group Utopia, said it was a 'living hell'.
She said: "The station was cluttered with express boxes with thousands of animals that had already died, and the entire place reeks of rotting bodies.
"It was like a living hell."
She added: "It was obvious they died of suffocation, dehydration and starvation."
It's understood that the list of animals included guinea pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs, all of which were found in hundreds of steel cages and boxes.
In China, it's illegal to ship live animals in regular packaging, but Hua believes they had been sold online and their delivery had been delayed, with the logistics company potentially having refused to sign them off due to the law.
She went on: "Miscommunication inside the shipping company and the inconsistency of the implementation of shipping regulations directly led to the tragedy.
"Of course, both buyers and sellers bear the responsibility, too."
Documents attached to the packages showed that they had been sent via express delivery company Yunda Express.
Two employees from the company told Global Times that they weren't aware of the incident but that it was usual practice.
They said: "Animals are transported in boxes with holes."
Lawyer Zhang Bo claimed it was easy for firms to bypass the laws, saying: "Nonetheless, as the rules were introduced decades ago, in 1990, without corresponding penalising measures, it's not easy for administrative departments to directly punish the violators."
LADbible has contacted Yunda Express for comment.