An online celebrity pet dog was sold at over 160,000 yuan (US$25,000) at an auction in China, which was extended for five hours due to huge public interest.
The eight-year-old shiba inu was put up for auction by the Chaoyang District Court in Beijing, northern China, as its owner could not be contacted and had defaulted on fostering costs at a pet training centre, the Southern Metropolis News reported.
The online auction started on Wednesday morning with an opening price of 500 yuan (US$78) and was scheduled to end 24 hours later. But the huge level of interest generated, with over 100,000 people watching the live-streaming auction on taobao.com, and with 480 people bidding, prompted the auctioneers to extend the bidding to Thursday afternoon.
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“I have been waiting for my owner for seven years. I grew from a little dog to a middle-aged dog. I am lonely. I want to find a home for myself,” the dog’s Weibo account, opened on its behalf by the centre, said. “I like to eat. I am healthy and obedient. Is there any kind-hearted brother or sister who wants to be my new owner?”
The male dog, named Deng Deng, was left by its owner in the care of Beijing Chonglehui Pet School at the end of 2014. The owner, surnamed Xiao, paid the centre a one-year long fostering fee.
But one year later, he failed to pick up the dog or pay any additional foster fees, the report said.
In 2017 the court ordered Xiao to collect the dog immediately and pay the outstanding fees owed to the pet centre.
However he failed to collect the dog, answer calls or reply to messages from the centre. This court then ordered Deng Deng be put up for auction in October of 2018.
Shortly before the auction, which attracted widespread media attention at the time, Xiao called the court from overseas, acknowledging his mistake and promised to pay his debts. The auction was then cancelled.
But after he paid off his debt to the centre, he still did not come to collect the dog and disappeared again.
Deng Deng is 40cm (1.3 feet) high, 50cm (1.6 feet) long and weighs 14kg (31lbs), has a healthy appetite and is desexed, the centre said.
The potential new owner, who doesn’t need to cover Xiao’s unpaid fees, must pick up the dog from the centre in Beijing. The centre said it will visit Deng Deng in the future to check on him, the newspaper reports.
“I burst into tears. I wish Deng Deng will find a home in the end,” wrote one woman on Weibo.
“I wish it will be happy forever. I hope its new owner loves it,” another person wrote.
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