When Marc Ching, an American holistic nutritionist and animal lover, first heard about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, he couldn’t believe it was real. Was there really a place where they actually kill cats and dogs for meat? Ching went to Yulin to witness it with his own eyes, at which point everything changed and his mission became clear: Do whatever it takes to put an end to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
“Most groups do petitions or go to dog farms,” he explains of efforts from groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, who rescue hundreds of dogs from breeding farms that sell dogs to slaughterhouses for butchering. “I go undercover to slaughterhouses and document torture. I’m bringing this torture to the public so they know what’s happening. People know in Asia dogs are killed for meat. What they don’t understand is that they’re torturing them.”
While supporters of the festival claim that the eating of cats and dogs is no different from the consumption of bacon or chicken in America, Ching says the difference is in the way the animals are killed. In the United States, laws like the Humane Slaughter Act protect farm animals from unnecessary abuse (although enforcement of those laws is a whole other issue). In China, abuse and plain cruelty towards the dogs is encouraged under the popular and misconceived belief that the adrenaline rush makes the meat softer, and since the animal was strong enough to withstand torture, that strength will be transferred to the one who eats it.
Ching says he’s seen just about everything, from dogs being boiled alive to being sodomized, being thrown against walls and even disemboweled. He captured the horrifying images with his phone — a hidden camera in plain sight.
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“The cover is that I go as a meat buyer and the people who own these places think I’m a potential business partner,” he explains. “I have my arms crossed, holding the phone in my hand and I’m taking video the whole time.”
It’s a dangerous move, he says, and hasn’t always worked. He’s been caught before and severely beaten, shot at and had his camera confiscated, but it’s a risk he considers worth the reward.
He also saves as many animals as he can under the guise of wanting to slaughter the animals himself to see if the meat is any good before he commits to a large purchase. He takes about five to ten animals at a time and immediately drives them to cities with a veterinary clinic to get them treated. He then brings the ones who survive to the United States to get adopted.
A handful of dogs per slaughterhouse may not sound like a lot, especially considering that over 10,000 cats and dogs are slaughtered in Yulin alone (and not counting countries like Vietnam and Indonesia where dog meat is regularly eaten), but the numbers add up.
He’s done five trips to Asia since 2015 and has rescued over 300 dogs. On June 11, he is going to Cambodia where he will literally blow up a slaughterhouse he purchased and then build a vegetarian noodle restaurant that the family who owned the slaughterhouse can operate in its place. He will then head to Yulin in hopes of rescuing more animals.
Although he does receive some donations from his nonprofit Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, which rescues abused animals in the United States, Ching says his missions in Asia are mostly self-funded. And while this one-man operation has been successful so far, he’ll need more than his sole efforts to put a stop to Yulin and the dog meat trade.
He is actively trying to get a meeting with officials in China to show them how horrifying the practices at slaughterhouses are, a task he equates as someone in China trying to schedule a meeting with Obama. But in the meantime he shares the less gory images from his rescue missions on social media, hoping that, as more people become aware of what the festival entails, they will actively push governments to put an end to it.
To help Ching’s efforts and ask the Chinese government to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, you can sign the Care2 petition, which already has over 1,180,000 supporters.
Photo Credit: Marc Ching