Yesterday I received an email from an organization I very much respect, Animals Asia. I first came across them a couple of years ago when I was bought a gift sponsorship of 'Bottom' the bear in my mother's name, as she adores bears. Animals Asia works in China and Vietnam to end bear bile farming and do outstanding work in bear rescue and in education - teaching people about the cruelties of bear bile farming and the hazards to human health of this obscene practice.
At the time, however, I did not realise that Animals Asia has also developed a very strong 'Friend....or Food' program, aimed at changing attitudes in China to dog and cat eating. OK, I sense I might lose a few folks here, but I just ask you to please read on. It is SO important.
This is the reality:
And then they become this:
(Images courtesy of Animals Asia)
And the scale of this practice was also unclear to me until recently. Animal People estimates that 13-16 million dogs and 4 million cats are butchered each year for human consumption in Asia.
Let's hear that again: 13 to 16 million dogs.
And 4 million cats.
OK, so back to the email I received yesterday. It came from the founder, Jill Robinson, who has launched a desperate appeal for donations to help provide care for the 149 dogs that were rescued on New Year's Eve from dog-meat traders. This is an excerpt from her message:
It all started on New Year’s Eve when the Qiming Rescue Centre, a dog shelter in Chengdu, asked for our help. The authorities in nearby Pengzhou had just confiscated 149 dogs from an unlicensed trading station (after a tip-off from Qiming staff) and the dogs were on their way to the shelter.
A small team, including one of our vets and a vet nurse, quickly grabbed medical supplies and headed for the shelter. We arrived just as the truck carrying the dogs pulled in. I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing! It was horrible in every sense of the word – the stench (so familiar from our visits to live animal markets), the blood-curdling cries coming from the cages as the terrified dogs bit into each and, as always, the terrible feeling we all get when we look into the haunting, sad eyes of these beautiful animals.
I hate to think how long they had been in those cages, many of them packed in so tightly that they were piled on top of each other. Some of the dogs were shaking with anxiety, while others were rigid with fear. Many were suffering terribly and showing symptoms of parvovirus, distemper and kennel cough. Most were skeletal and their coats filthy from being excreted and urinated on by the top layer of dogs.
Animals Asia is health-checking the dogs, treating their wounds, vaccinating them and, sadly, euthanising those that are just too sick to save or so aggressive that we could not rule out rabies or other diseases; these dogs are also a serious risk to other dogs and handlers. The process is ongoing, but we hope many of the dogs will recover and find good homes. However, these are the lucky ones – this year alone, millions of other dogs (and cats) will be slaughtered in the most brutal manner in hellish meat markets in China.
They will be crammed together into tiny cages, loaded onto trucks and driven day and night for four or five days with no food or water (if they are lucky, they might be hosed down, just to keep them alive). Once at the markets in southern China, they will be bludgeoned across the face, stabbed and bled out, or slowly, torturously beaten to death in the misguided belief that their meat will taste better if they are panic-stricken at the point of death. The same fate awaits millions of cats – some of them are even boiled alive.
What is so encouraging about this rescue is that it was a local animal-welfare centre that alerted the authorities about the unlicensed trader and, for the first time, the authorities actually confiscated the dogs! This is a wonderful example of Chinese people standing up and saying “no” to the cruel dog-eating trade – and it underpins our education efforts to stop demand and bring this industry to an end.
Animals Asia really needs funding right now. And money - however much we can all as individuals spare - goes a loooooooong way in China. I know times are tough financially, but life is tougher by far for those dogs and if you can see your way clear to sending a donation - however small - please click on this link.
And then go and cuddle your own dog. Because s/he knows YOU need it.
Thanks friends, and stay vegan.