In the very first rescue spearheaded by the China command center after this summer’s Yulin dog meat festival, Chinese activists and Humane Society International (HSI) rescued more than 400 dogs en route to slaughter. Activists spotted a truck crammed with defeated-looking dogs and intercepted immediately.
During a 50-hour impasse between experienced negotiators and the driver, rescuers provided food, water, and shade for the “desperately dehydrated and exhausted dogs.” General secretary of VShine—an animal protection association in China—Dezhi Yu, put the situation in grim detail:
This was a truly tense situation, with hundreds of dogs in such terrible, inhumane conditions. We argued with the truck driver for more than two days to save these animals. We have to take a stand against the brutal and illegal dog meat trade, and this was a decisive victory over a notorious dog meat trader in the region.
Unfortunately, 30 did not survive the trip, but the rest will visit the vet before finding new, permanent homes. In an oddly human gesture, one undoubtedly grateful dog who knew his suffering was over thanked one of his rescuers.
The photo has received much attention; one person commented, “Anybody [who] needs convincing that animals feel pain empathy, loss fear should take a look at this photo.” Another says, “This picture brings me to tears to think about what these precious dogs have gone through. This dog knew he was rescued and offered his paw in thanks.”
And though we can’t say exactly what the dog was thinking, we’re sure the only thing he’ll have to worry about now is when his parents will get home each day to play.
This is by no means the first time HSI and Chinese rescue organizations have intervened on behalf of these animals trapped in circulation within the dog meat trade; they have helped dog meat farmers convert their business to more humane agricultural practices while adopting the dogs out to families in China and the United States, and continue with these efforts everyday.
HSI’s China specialist, Peter Li, is both awed and optimistic regarding the longevity of the trade:
[These rescuers’] dedication and patience is truly remarkable in the face of the suffering they see in these trucks, with sick, starving and dehydrated dogs looking on in desperation. Ending China’s cruel dog meat trade is a priority for Humane Society International, and this will be the first of many such rescues coordinated through the command center task force. I hope these rescues will send a clear message to dog traders in China that the industry has no future.
To help Humane Society International and their partners in China end the dog meat trade for good, consider making a donation on their website. And to keep up with all their amazing efforts and rescues, visit the HSI Facebook page.