Authorities found no evidence suggesting that the Chinese citizen who had collected more than 50 dogs in a small Cartagena home was killing the animals.
The Caribbean Coast news site El Universal reported that Administrative Department of District Health (DADIS) conducted an investigation into Gabriel Chang after hundreds of neighbors stormed his house and demanded that he release the dogs.
DADIS did not find any evidence that Chang was murdering dogs, refrigerating them, and selling the meat as his neighbors alleged. The health department concluded that he bred dogs and was obsessed with them.
Chang told newspaper El Heraldo that he kept the dogs because they kept him company and helped him to cope with the recent loss of his wife.
Rumors that Chang was stealing neighborhood dogs to kill them and serve in a Chinese food restaurant began after neighbors found two dead dogs in trash bags on the street. Chang maintained that he did not kill the dogs but rather they were fatally injured in a fight.
“As confirmed by DADIS, the dogs were well fed and not starved, I never had a complaint from the neighbors, it all started because an advocate for animal rights heated up the tempers [of the neighbors] with false information,” Chang explained.
The dogs are being kept in an animal shelter and some are being treated for malnutrition and skin infections. They will reportedly be spayed and neutered.
DADIS added that one of the functions of the agency is to conduct health inspections in all Cartagena restaurants. They found that the Chinese restaurants they have inspected “met nationally set standards” of health.
According to El Heraldo, Chinese restaurants in the area reported a 50% drop in sales following reports that Chang was killing the animals to be served in local restaurants. In protest, local Chinese restaurant owners are considering suing media outlets for soiling the good name of Chinese food in Colombia.