Chinese internet company Alibaba has removed home use euthanasia kits for pets from its popular shopping site after a mainland paper revealed that the kits were being sold by vendors on Taobao.

“Alibaba’s marketplaces forbid the listing or sale of any products that are forbidden by law,” Alibaba told HKFP. “We have been screening the product listings from third-party sellers to remove such listings as to ensure compliance with our marketplace rules.”

Photo: Screenshot circulating online.

The Chongqing Morning Post first reported that pet euthanasia injections were being sold on an e-commerce platform. According to screenshots, the injections sold for around 60-65RMB (HK$68-73) each.

Individuals can set up shop as Taobao vendors, though they need to go through a verification process to link the account with their Chinese IDs and bank accounts. Businesses can also register on Taobao if they provide their business licence numbers. A search for the products on Taobao Friday morning found no results.

The newspaper contacted one of the vendors, who said that the products sell very well – nearly 200 were sold in their busiest month.

Photo: Shangyou.

When the reporter expressed a wish to buy the product, the vendor asked for some basic information about their pet: the breed, age, weight, symptoms, the disease it is suffering from, and whether it has received treatment.

The vendor said the reporter would be able to buy the injection after the reporter sends in a video of their pet’s current situation.

Most buyers said that their pets exhibited symptoms including severe convulsions and foaming at the mouth after being injected, the paper said. One buyer surnamed Zhang told the outlet that he bought four injections for his sick dog after attempts to treat its illness proved ineffective. Having his dog put down at an animal hospital would have cost him 700-800RMB (HK$789-901), the paper said.

A photo advertising the product on Taobao. Photo: Taobao.

Ten minutes after the dog was injected, it experienced severe convulsions, lost bladder control, and its eyes rolled up. Finally, it died with its tongue out and its eyes open, stiff with pain, according to the buyer’s account.

The China Institute for Veterinary Drug Control, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, said in a response to the Chongqing paper that currently no organisations or individuals have been approved to sell any kind of injections for euthanising pets, and that any such commercial activity is illegal.

If humans are injected with this kind of product, it could be fatal, the newspaper cited the organisation and neurologists as saying.

catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.