The rescuers who saved Nibble and the others from an ignominious fate said the conditions of the transport were appalling. Several of the mastiffs had broken limbs, and they had not been given food or water for three days. By the time the dogs were released from their cages — the volunteers eventually paid the driver for their freedom — more than a third of them were dead.
“Fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market,” Liz Flora, editor-in-chief of marketing research company Jing Daily, told the Times. “Han Chinese consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”
About half of Tibet’s 95 breeders have folded since the height of the craze, in 2013. (In August of that year, a zoo in the eastern Chinese city of Luohe was caught trying to pass off a particularly large mastiff as a lion.)