American activist Marc Ching, founder of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, convinced the owners of 6 slaughterhouses to sell their businesses to him prior to the start of this year’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival. He and a team of volunteers shut the slaughterhouses down and rescued the dogs inside. As a result, many meat vendors have been forced to close down their businesses as well.
Ching visited a total of 11 slaughterhouses during his rescue effort, and was unable to come to an agreement with some owners. He mentioned that the money he paid for the slaughterhouses is less than the revenue if all the dogs are sold; however, the owners also get to save on production costs and retire, so many agreed.
“Every year, everybody protests but it does nothing. I attack their supply chains. I go in and I shut these slaughterhouses down,” Ching told InsideEdition.com.
On the other hand, Peter J. Li from Humane Society International warned that “We’re likely to see extortion against the rescue people as happened last year, when dog meat traders brutalized dogs in order to fetch high prices from the rescue people.”
The team of volunteers did not have an easy time. Though the government claims to have no ties with the festival, police officers followed Ching and volunteers and sometimes impeded their efforts. On Facebook, he described that he has been “beat up” on the way to Yulin and detained at the airport. The police followed them and allegedly “threatened the owner against making a deal with Ching” when the group visited one slaughterhouse. He speculates that this is because the government does not want them to see the horrors within the slaughterhouses. Another possible cause is that things have gotten violent before between dog-lovers and dog-eaters.
Not only did Ching and his team save dogs from a brutal fate, they have also saved many humans from the risk of disease. Many dogs slaughtered at Yulin are “sick, dying or already dead,” often with skin problems, according to Peter Li. Experts have long warned about possible outbreaks of rabies, and Yulin has one of the highest rates of this disease in the nation.
Unfortunately, this also means that many of the dogs rescued might not survive. Out of 1,400 dogs that were rescued and taken to one shelter last year, 1,000 of them were dead in two months.
According to state media, sales are slipping at this year’s festival thanks to pressure, both domestic and international. Before the start of the festival, Chinese celebs teamed up on ad that called for greater compassion towards animals. Already, attitudes are starting to shift, with a recent survey finding that 64% of Chinese people oppose the annual festival.
Also opposed are many international celebrities, Paris Hilton, Alicia Witt, Matt Damon and Pamela Anderson have all voiced their support for Marc Ching’s efforts to buy slaughterhouses and free dogs.
[Video via Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation]