Shocking footage of nearly 1,000 dogs packed into tiny cages being trucked towards a slaughterhouse in China has surfaced online.

The heartbreaking images, which show traumatised creatures in filthy, cramped conditions, were captured by animal welfare activists that stopped the lorry on 20 June.

The truck was intercepted in Guangdong Province, in the south of China, nearing the end of a mammoth 1,210 mile journey from Gansu.

More than 800 canines were on their way to being slaughtered so they could be processed for human consumption, according to Humane Society International, who distributed the footage.

The 3.21m clip shows hundreds of dogs yelping in discomfort, their bodies bent to fit into tiny cages – while others appear to have lost the will to live.

The animals were not headed for the infamous Yulin festival, which began yesterday (21 June, despite reports last month that Chinese authorities had cancelled it.

The annual specialist dog meat celebration in Yulin has become a totem of China's dog and cat meat eating traditions, which are under intense scrutiny from animal rights campaigners both at home and abroad.

In a statement, Humane Society International said: "The rescue provides the world with a timely reminder that the cruel dog and cat meat trade is not restricted to the Yulin festival, but is a year-round and nationwide problem.

"While the dogs and cats were not headed to Yulin, they are an example of the estimated 10-20 million dogs and four million cats killed annually for human consumption across China."

Dogs China Cats Truck
Humane Society International