Hannah was literally snatched from the jaws of death in the summer of 2016 while waiting in the holding area of a small slaughterhouse. This picture of her lying on a platform was actually taken inside the slaughterhouse itself on the day she was rescued. Clearly, Hannah was in a very low desperate state by then and she could not know the urgency of her own situation.
Who knows how life had brought her to this point – had she once been a beloved pet? It is usual for gangs in villages to round up dogs from breeding farms, strays and stolen pets keeping them confined in horrific conditions until they are shipped all over China to be used for food and fur. Who knows how long she had been kept without food by this point. She was so weak from starvation that we had to carry her to safety.
Shortly after Yulin, we had travelled there on a tip from our worker who had left the town of Dongbei to see if we could bring back a dozen Samoyeds that had been delivered there days before. Our co-activist Qi Xin Zhao (Mr Zhao) has a quiet determination when it comes to communicating with the workers in such places and was somehow able to talk them into handing over some of the dogs which were held waiting to be brutally killed for their meat – a group of Samoyed dogs and Hannah.
Mr Zhao for some reason seems to have a wonderful way of appealing to the good nature of even the ugliest of traders to get them to hand over dogs. We were determined not to give the slaughterers large sums of money but to negotiate their release if we could through food safety laws or for a pittance. When Yulin ends the horror does not.
Having Samoyeds of my own I could not bear the idea these dogs would suffer. The journey to the slaughterhouse had been long and our open truck was hot and seemed pretty likely to break down.
I cannot even start to describe what we encountered in those 26 hours but in so many ways Dongbei was worse than Yulin. There was no festival atmosphere (not that it would have made things better) just the horrific stark reality of a horror that goes on day after day. Some slaughterhouses can kill up to 400 dogs a day but this place was actually a really small one with less than 20 dogs. The stench was unbearable and we were forced to pick our way through bits old carcass and fur.
Mr Zhao miraculously made a deal on the other dogs and a labrador and then we saw Hannah – a dog with no fur high on the benches all skin and bones. We had no idea even what breed she was and she cost us RMB82 (less than £10). For some reason Samoyeds naturally seem to keep their optimism and joy, and they coped well with the journey back but Hannah was subdued and exhausted so she laid with us in the front.
At the shelter Mr Zhao runs single-handedly dogs are separated according to breed and sex, and since we do not yet have a functioning medical centre we try to isolate the sickest to contain infection. We knew in truth as we placed her with some of the rescued Yulin dogs there was not much we could do but provide as much nutrition as we could.
Over the months her fur grew back in a patchy way consistent with Cushing’s disease and all we wanted was to make her time with us a pain free as possible. There was a sweetness in her eyes (one brown, one blue) that captured our hearts and we advertised for a sponsor and found a lovely man who was able to donate £2.50 a month. This may not sound like a lot but actually for us every penny counts.
When I was back in China before Yulin this year as I raced to see ‘my’ rescued Samoyeds to my great surprise an incredible old English sheepdog came bounding towards me in recognition! She literally hugged me and I was overwhelmed so meet such a bundle of joy and excitement. Our volunteer Anna told me “She knows you – don’t you recognise her?”.
The eyes seemed familiar but I had no recollection of a sheep dog at the shelter. It was Hannah, of course. How strange to see this magnificent iconic British breed sitting there in the sun with her Samoyed friends.
I immediately started the process of getting the necessary shots and rabies test so we could find her a loving home and pretty much straight away an offer came in for her. Sadly, that has since fallen through and as winter has drawn in again her skin condition has come back. She has become depressed and won’t play in the new playground we made for the dogs. She now needs someone who can make her rescue complete – a loving adopter to provide her the safety, security, warmth and affection of a home. Like all our rescued dogs she needs to be cuddled, cherished and loved.
Despite lack of funding we have decided to make the utmost effort to bring her to Europe with some of the Samoyeds, to get them well and let people see first hand the reality of dogs rescued from the dog meat trade. You do not see many rescued dogs like ours who go to live in a basic shelter and are cared for day in day out by the hero who gave up everything to make a difference for them.
The government in China has issued us with a worrying decree that in March 2018 – less than 3 months from now – they intend close us down. They did this to our friend with 26 hours notice in the summer. We now have a daunting challenge to find desperately needed homes for our dogs and cats wherever we can – both inside and outside China.
Social media is so fickle and people just want a fast moving story and latest news. Adopters pick a dog from afar but if they cannot get it now, move onto another pleading face. Hannah has been with Mr Zhao 18 months and just like our other dogs, chows labradors, poodles, whatever they may be, we need to get them to safety. We still have our plans to build a medical shelter and equip a van to attend rescue missions but first have to attend to this new challenge.
We cannot do any of this without your help. Our dogs need real help, not just likes on our posts although we appreciate if you can not help you will share our work.
This is what it costs to bring a medium/large dog to Europe with the incredible deals we have negotiated.
Rabies and other shots £25
Blood test and passport £150
Exit health check £110
Travel box £70
Transport to the airport and health check centre £50
Flight with a volunteer on average £250
Transport from Europe to final destination £100
Gift for the ones who stay behind £50
Total = £810
Travel to Europe and the USA is quite similar – EU1000/$1000
A huge sum for some kind-hearted adopters perhaps – yet not impossible. By the time is a dog is selected and prepared to fly with all tests it can take 6 months so that is just £30 a week to raise and we will always help to fundraise.
Hannah’s plight, the cruelty Britain’s most iconic dog was subjected to was unbearable to witness. Let’s bring her to a new home and a loving family. Her loyalty will be worth it.
For more information on adoption please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
As a UK registered charity (no. 115424) and a registered 501(c)3, donations are tax deductible.
Thank you for caring.
Julia de Cadenet