In a politically charged week with both the United Nations and British Government addressing animal welfare issues, I finally feel some hope.
The last few weeks have been pure misery. Just the idea our team had to go back to Yulin Dog Meat Festival, ten years after my first visit, filled me with dread.There is no heroic feeling about going into slaughterhouses and seeing the pleading eyes of the dogs about to be brutally killed or uncovering atrocities of dog farms. There is even less about knowing you can’t save them all.
Social media users follow our journey sharing posts, gasping in horror and sharing tears, but even with 21 incredible souls saved, like we did this year, our team makes its long journey back to Beijing feeling rotten.
As caring Chinese vets check out the dogs, our hearts sink to learn they test positive for four infectious diseases, canine flu, parvo, canine coronavirus and distemper. We know it is only time before we may lose one or more.
Yulin is just one example of the atrocities we have seen in the dog and cat meat trade throughout Asia. There is intensive dog farming in South Korea with dogs fed on rotting waste, pumped full of antibiotics and left without shelter in heat and cold, eardrums burst to stop them barking. Cats don’t do much better. Kittens plunged into hot water to make soup. They are skinned alive in Vietnam, bones crushed into a paste to cure a variety of ailments. Sometimes, like in China, it is stolen pets; other times, South Korea farmed dogs or just the pitiful sight of lives being exchanged for cheap plastic buckets and bowls in Cambodia. The suffering is endless and relentless.
Our China shelter is full of dogs and cats; we wonder if we will ever find homes, and it seems like no one cares for not even in the pandemic. Not about the dogs and cats and certainly not about zoonotic disease or how this total disregard to animal welfare can affect their health.
A small charity like ours is not just about rescue. We spend hours of our time writing reports to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Health departments. We have even started to write our own Animal Welfare Charter to help protect the millions of dogs and cats with zero rights brutally used for food and fur each year.
It seems though Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2021 was a turning point as our journey and findings were sensitively picked up by journalists. A few days later, MP Andrea Jenkyns
reached out to us. She had been horrified by the suffering of cats and dogs. This led to conversations, and we were truly heartened to find she agreed to lead a Westminster Hall Debate and schedule it for July 14th before parliament breaks for recess. We have been able to put forward our findings of the trade and also how we believe legislation and education can make a difference. It gives us hope to know the UK Government is taking this issue seriously.
And it does not stop there. This week ministers from around the globe will meet at the United Nations to update on their progress around the sustainable development goals. They will discuss as we move on from the worst of the pandemic how we can truly make a difference to the environment, to our youth and our everyday lives. Our statement on animal welfare and the dog meat trade will be circulated to all participants. The realities of this awful trade cannot be excused as cultural, and finally, it will be formally recorded and discussed.
No child should grow up believing cruelty to animals is ok and sentience needs to be recognised globally.
We sincerely hope our proposals will be adopted, but I am grateful for now to be heard.
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Julia and all the volunteers @notodogmeat
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Our Yulin21 dogs need funds for their veterinary care