Images of a mother dog watching over her caged puppies being sold on a street in Hangzhou, China have become widely shared on Chinese social media.
The photos, which were initially uploaded on QQ.com, immediately went viral, earning the compassion and concern of many Chinese netizens.
The clearly distraught dog named Le Le visits her month-old puppies being peddled at a night market stall daily. Inews reports (via Daily Mail) that the poor mom dog even ran after a buyer who purchased two of her puppies.
The photographer, who captured the images on Monday, was told by the stall owner that three-year-old Le Le had delivered four puppies last month. There are two puppies left that Le Le continues to watch over.
The unnamed photographer then described how Le Le would become protective of her puppies whenever potential customers would show interest and point at the puppies. The mother dog would reportedly turn her head around, staring at the prospective buyers.
It was also revealed that Le Le had given birth three times, and whenever her puppies turned one month old, her owner would put the puppies up for sale for 180 yuan ($26) each.
Chinese netizens have been criticizing the stall owner out of their pity for the mother.
“I’m not an animal activist, but I know why Le Le looked so sad,” one QQ commenter wrote. “Why couldn’t [the owner] leave one puppy for Le Le?”
“She had to endure the pain of losing her children time after time,” another one added. “The owner is too cruel.”
“To you, it’s just a puppy; but to Le Le, it’s her child,” a netizen was quoted as saying.
Others simply hoped that the puppies would end up with a caring owner who “truly likes dogs.”