Poisoned syringes that could be fired at dogs on the street to kill them instantly were sold by a gang in China, allowing pets to be snatched and sold for the dinner table, state media said.

Police in the eastern province of Anhui arrested eight gang members, alleging they sold 200,000 of the syringes throughout China filled with a large dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium.

This photo taken on May 10, 2016 shows dogs at a dog shelter set up by animal activists in Yulin, in China’s southern Guangxi region. File photo: AFP.

The buyers were mainly dog vendors who collect and sell dogs to restaurants for meat, the Xinhua news agency said, citing police who warned that people who ate the meat were also in danger of being poisoned.

The needles were modified by the gang with a spring and tailfin so they could be shot from a distance like a dart.

A photo taken at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. File photo: AP Images for HSI.

After buying the needles, unscrupulous dog dealers would target pet dogs, then abduct them.

Police said that the hunt was on to find more of the syringes, which contained enough suxamethonium to kill the animals immediately.

When police raided the gang’s lair in Enshi City, in central Hubei Province, in October, they found four kilos of chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan ($15,000).

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