China’s Dog Meat Trade
CAUTION: The information below may be disturbing.
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China’s dog meat trade has been going on for decades. The “tradition” of eating dogs in some areas may have started during periods of famine when the only option for survival was to eat the stray dogs. Unfortunately, as a result, this has continued into prosperous times. As you read through this account of the dog meat trade, you must keep in mind that this is not a cultural tradition and that there is a rapidly growing outcry against the practice not only internationally but from the Chinese people themselves. Please don’t paint the Chinese people with a broad brush.
You may be under the misconception that there are dog farms in China, similar to our cattle ranches: dogs are bred, born, raised then taken off to the slaughterhouse for a humane demise. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the dogs rescued from the dog meat trade are stolen pets! Due to the lack of awareness dog ownership responsibilities and of the risk, many people in China do not keep their dogs on leashes. Dog meat trade vans will cruise the streets of Beijing and surrounding towns looking for dogs. Here is a possible scenario: someone is walking his/her dog down the street (off leash), a van pulls up, a guy jumps out and snatches the dog before the owner can react. Most of the time, in cases like this, the owner will never see that dog again! Millions of pet dogs are stolen every year and sent to slaughterhouses.
Strictly speaking, the selling and eating of dog meat is against the law in China. This is not because of any animal rights laws, because there are zero animal rights laws, but because dogs are not only nabbed off the street but are also poisoned, shot with spear guns, caught in leg traps, and kept in large, unsanitary conditions. Many of the dogs butchered and sold for meat are sick or have died from poison or disease.
The slaughtering of dogs is extremely unpleasant. The “custom” of consuming dog meat requires that the dogs be slaughtered in a certain way in order to make the meat more succulent. This includes boiling or skinning dogs alive and, in some areas, severely beating the dogs to increase their level of adrenaline.
The stopping of trucks and confiscating dogs on their way to a slaughter house is dangerous work that requires a large group of dedicated volunteers whose sole purpose is to save dogs from the horror in which they’ve been living and a very painful death.
The stopping of a dog meat truck (at times carrying 400-500 dogs) usually begins by someone seeing the truck on the road. The use of social media comes into play. The sighting of the truck and its location is quickly broad-casted on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) and WeChat. The trucks are stopped at stop lights/signs, at “rest areas”, or government check points. Volunteers put their lives on the line because the dog meat vendors are usually members of gangs or other criminal organizations.
To keep the trucks from moving while waiting for reinforcements, volunteers will lie down in the road in front of the truck’s wheels.
Once there are enough volunteers at the scene, the dogs are confiscated and off-loaded. Some dogs have already perished and must be taken away. The remaining dogs go through a triage and sorted into groups according to their levels of health.
Some of the dogs, although still alive, are too ill and are euthanized at the scene. Those that the volunteers are able to save are given water then placed back into a crate for transport to a holding facility. If the police are involved, the process can become even more complicated. The police can require all the dogs kept at a facility for 21 days while they decide the dog's future. During the 21-day waiting period, the dogs are not given vet care and more will die. Without police involvement, the surviving dogs are placed in various shelters.
Even if SEVA GRREAT and other Golden Retriever rescues were to bring 100% of the dog meat Golden survivors over to the U.S., it would not end China’s dog meat trade. What will end it is pressure placed on China’s government by its own citizens and large animal rights groups, such as Humane Society International. However, bringing the dogs over to the U.S. will support China’s internal anti-dog-meat trade movement and alleviate the pressure in the various shelters, and most importantly, we will have given so many Goldens a second chance to live with loving families.
Please, if you haven’t done so already, please donate to help SEVA GRREAT bring rescued “China dogs” to Virginia.