Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend, Not Dinner And We Must Protect Them

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In Partnership With Humane Society International

Warning: Distressing Content

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Many people will recognise the amazing feeling you get returning home to your dog after a long, hard day at work.

Having a four-legged, waggy-tailed friend to share walks with and to cuddle are just two advantages to life with a dog.

Sadly, in some parts of the world, some dogs don’t have the life they deserve:

In fact, thousands of dogs are killed and eaten during the controversial Yulin Festival. It’s a concept too hard for many of us to understand.

In the UK alone, an estimated nine million people own a dog, according to the RSPCA – and the fact they’re not on the menu is enshrined by our government.

The concept of killing and eating man’s best friend is criminal, under UK law.

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But, over in China, the annual dog meat trade sees more than 10 million dogs and four million cats killed annually, for eating – most of them ‘stolen pets and strays’.

This is celebrated during the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, an annual 10-day event which takes place in the Guangxi province, a remote part of southern China, during the summer solstice.

Despite the high number of dogs and cats being killed for food, surveys have found most Chinese citizens (69.5 per cent of those surveyed in a 2016 poll commissioned by HSI/Avaaz) have never even tried it.

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Their suffering doesn’t start at the slaughterhouse. Dogs are often sick or injured when they’re picked up by meat-sellers, and many die from shock, suffocation, dehydration or heatstroke.

Those who survive the journey face a brutal and terrifying ordeal, some are beaten to death and sometimes, they’re boiled alive.

Reading about, and seeing photos of the sheer inhumanity in the treatment of ‘man’s best friend’, is a tough sight.

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My parents’ dog, Bertie, can’t even cope with my mum leaving the room at the best of times, so these poor dogs, being forced from their owners, must be terrified.

Dogs are such loyal creatures and we’re constantly reading about how they come to the rescue in all sorts of situations.

Take Penny, for example, a pit-bull from Kentucky, who made global news when she was found to have stayed by the side of a missing two-year-old girl.

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The toddler, Charlee Campbell, went missing from her grandmother’s home. Search crews had spent two days looking for Charlee who’d wandered off into the woods nearby.

Rescuers found Penny with her, and realised she’d stayed by Charlee’s side until they were returned home on Saturday, both safe and well.

Just watch these incredible scenes:

Then there’s the other side of the coin; owners are fiercely protective of their dogs. I am, and I don’t know anybody who isn’t.

Liz Haslam was given an ultimatum by her husband of 25 years… him or the dogs – all 30 of them. Spoiler: She picked the dogs. Obviously.

Liz stated:

My husband said, ‘It is me or the dogs’. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. I thought, after 25 years, he should know giving up the dogs was not what my intentions were.

She added:

He just got to the point where he’d had enough and he wanted to slow down. But I wasn’t prepared to give it all up. So he decided to go, and obviously, that was his choice.

Dedicated Liz spends around 18 hours a day taking care of her beloved dogs; walking them four times each every 24 hours.

And that’s what dogs mean to people.

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It’s stories like those which make seeing barbaric treatment of dogs all the harder to digest, because we relate so much to having them as companions.

It’s the same for many people in China, and other countries across the world. Often though, their pets are taken by people in the meat industry. Those thefts alone are brutal.

You can witness one of those caught on CCTV in the footage below:

Unfortunately, this is just the start. Accounts given by those who’ve witnessed the killings are horrific.

Denied food, water and comfort, the dogs stacked at the bottom of the truck become drenched in urine and faeces, while those in the middle can suffocate to death.

Others die from illness, dehydration or heatstroke long before they reach their destination.

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Describing the shocking scenes at Yulin, an activist by the name of Allen, told HSI:

What I saw will haunt me for months, I have never seen dogs so scared like these ones. I truly do not understand how the slaughterhouse workers could be so blind to the frightened looks of the dogs waiting for their turn.

Most of them were small sized dogs, typical pet dogs, and they were terrified because they had seen the killing of probably 50 dogs that morning.

They were friendly but very confused, and all of them were emaciated due to food and water deprivation.

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Allen said 135 dogs were taken immediately to a temporary shelter to receive food, water and emergency care.

Once settled at the shelter, it became clear there were three heavily pregnant females – who gave birth to their puppies soon after.

Hard reading, isn’t it?

Can you imagine your pets going through this level of trauma? I can’t.

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The idea of going overseas and buying the dogs otherwise destined for the slaughterhouse, is not as helpful as you’d think, either, and simply injects money into the trade.

Yet HSI said rescue is a ‘small but important part’ of their strategy across Asia, and they conduct large-scale rescue operations in co-operation with both their Chinese partner activists on the ground, and the traders, helping them to rehabilitate to cruelty-free agriculture.

Just look at the gratitude showed by these 50 pups saved from a farm in South Korea last week:

Some lucky dogs do get rescued though, and go on to find their forever home – even after their traumatic experiences, and having received the right care and medical treatment.

Angelina Lim adopted a dog from a rescue kennel in November 2016.

Snorki, was saved from Yulin before the festival started.

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Speaking to UNILAD on the subject of PTSD within rescued dogs, Angelina said:

Snorki displayed fear aggression towards strangers at the beginning with light growling and air snapping. She never actually bit anyone. The fear aggression subsided after about six-to-eight months.

She is, until today, still distrustful of strangers and would only allow certain individuals to stroke her. She’s still slightly reactive to some strangers and with others, no issues if they stick their hand out to pet her.

But once she trusts the person she’d be happy to let them stroke her and offer belly rubs. Snorki avoids children and strangers in general – she only goes up to people she knows and trusts.

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It’s difficult to read about these intelligent creatures being treated in such a poor way, but the more we talk about it, the more pressure there is to stop it.

Wendy Higgins of HSI told UNILAD how the ‘whole premise of the festival is a fabrication’, telling us it’s a ‘dog massacre, marketed as tradition’ by dog traders who care more about commerce than culture.

Dogs really are man’s best friend, and they’re ours.

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Follow UNILAD’s Stop Yulin campaign, which will be running throughout the festival, from 21 to 30 June.

Humane Society International and their Chinese animal group partners, VShine and Capital Animal Welfare Association, are petitioning the Yulin authorities to implement and enforce a total ban this year.

Speak out against this cruelty by signing the petition.