Q: How, when and why did you begin?
A: We officially started in July, 2016. Before that we were helping out a local shelter here and that’s how we got exposed to the industry. From working with the shelter, a few things became apparent - it was overcrowded, a lot of the dogs weren’t finding homes, a lot of dogs weren’t getting the treatment they needed and weren’t getting the basic necessities that they needed (initial quarantine, immunizations and sterilization). We felt like we could be doing more to help. So we started just focusing on a couple of dogs at a time. We mostly took the sickest and the most in need in the beginning. Now, we embrace the spirit of 'no dog left behind' and do our best to help as many as we can.
Q: How do you go about rescuing dogs from the dog meat industry?
A: We typically refrain from buying dogs from the industry (but obviously if were confronted by dogs being sold for meat, we can’t turn and walk away from them, but as a basic principal we don’t buy dogs from markets). There are other ways to rescue our dogs (and cats):
The secondhand rescue: Many of the local shelters and activists buy dogs from markets to save them from slaughter. They often reach out to us and ask us to help them by taking on as many as we are able.
Meat Truck Stops: Any meat sold for consumption in China (like most other countries in the world) must come with certificates that verify that they’ve been raised in a sanitary condition for the purpose of meat. Due to the fact that China does not have farms for dogs, the dogs that are sold for the purpose of consumption do not have these health certificates and are therefore illegal. The dogs sold into the dog meat industry are stolen pets, strays and runaways.
In China, there are activists that act as a highway patrol - they have networks of people on highways that pursue dog meat trucks, often putting their own lives at risk and report them to the Agricultural Department and Police. This isn’t always successful though to secure the release of the dogs, as papers can be bought.
When it is successful, the dogs are usually placed under the responsibility of a local activist and then are all transferred to a secure location while they go through quarantine (this time is crucial to get as many volunteers on site as soon as possible. The dogs are often extremely sick, weak and dehydrated). After they pass through quarantine there are usually a large number of rescue groups all throughout China that will take responsibility for a number of the dogs to make sure they get healthy, rehabilitated and into new homes.
Q: How many dogs have you rescued so far?
A: At this stage (Spring/Summer 2018) we’ve rescued more than 600 dogs and cats. Oh! And a raccoon and a pigeon once as well.
Q: Is dog meat illegal in China?
A: No. Selling, serving and consuming dog meat is legal in China. Any meat sold for consumption in China (like most other countries in the world) must come with certificates that verify that they’ve been raised in a sanitary condition for the purpose of meat. Due to the fact that China does not have farms for dogs, the dogs that are sold for the purpose of consumption do not have these health certificates and are therefore illegal. The dogs sold into the dog meat industry are stolen pets, strays and runaways.
Q: Where do “dog meat” dogs come from?
A: As there are no dog meat farms in China, all of the dogs sold into the industry are runaways, stolen pets and strays. Another big supply of these dogs comes from puppy mills, once the puppy is considered too old and ugly for sale (generally as young as 8 weeks old), then breeders will sell them off as meat to cut their losses.
Q: Who eats dog meat?
A: Common misconceptions:
Dog meat is mostly eaten in rural areas. This is untrue, speaking with people abroad, they tend to generalize this and assume that it’s poorer communities that eat it. The starting price for dog meat in China is the same as beef, the most expensive meat on the market.
The majority of dog meat is consumed at YuLin. Also inaccurate. YuLin instead highlights what happens across the country, in every city, everyday.
Eating dog is just the same as eating other meat. Untrue. While we personally don’t condone eating any meat, the preparation of dog meat is particularly cruel. There are several different ways to prepare it and in some specialty restaurants the diner has the opportunity to chose their dog and preparation technique. We won’t go into the details, but there are many videos and articles available online that talk about this torture.
YuLin is a traditional Chinese Festival. No it’s not. It was introduced in 2009 to stimulate the local economy.
Q: So why do people eat dog meat?
A: For many it’s a social norm - they haven’t grown up with animals or with an awareness to protect animals or what it means for an animal to suffer. People also aren’t aware of the quality of meat they’re ingesting because they’re playing top dollar for a meat, they don’t expect it to be riddled with disease and raised in unhygienic ways. In North-East China, we have a lot of Korean minority groups here and they consume a lot of the dog meat. People also eat it for health benefits in Northeast China. We have brutally cold winters and they believe it raises the body temperature. Also in Chinese medicine, they believe dog meat strengthens your Qi (your body’s energy) making you stronger and it increase your sex drive.
Q: How do you go about re-homing the dogs?
A: Originally we were facilitating local adoptions, but currently we’ve decided that until China introduces animal protection laws, we will not be adopting any dogs into China anymore. So this means all of our dogs are sent abroad for adoption. To make this more sustainable, we’ve partnered with a few different rescues in the USA and Northern Ireland. We tend not to do private adoptions and if we do, we always make sure we work alongside a rescue located in that area. This is because we’re a long way away from their new homes. These dogs have been through a lot and do take time to adjust to their new lives. So to make sure new families are getting the support they need and to ensure that our dogs always get the best care, these rescues provide a huge support to us, our pups and their new families.
Q: What do I need to be a volunteer?
A: Once your volunteer trip is confirmed, you will need a valid Passport. You will also need to apply for a Chinese Visa at the Chinese Consulate nearest to your city. You can apply for a one time or multi-entry visa, depending on if you plan on returning to China in the future! Although not required, we recommend the following shots shots: Hep A, Hep B, Tetanus, Rabies. You'll also need a love for animals and a big heart!
Q: What does 'flight volunteer' mean?
A: An integral part of our mission is to get our rescues out of China and into new forever homes. Part of the volunteer experience is, if possible, flying back with our rescues to connect them with one of our designated rescue partners for rehoming. Although not required, we highly encourage our volunteers to participate in this aspect of our mission. We will work with you to arrange the return flight logistics so that your return flight allows the transport of our rescues and that they go to the appropriate destination. While we cover the costs of the animals' flight out of China, we welcome fundraising for this aspect of the experience, as flight transport fees are quite costly.
Q: How do the animals fly out of China?
A: We handle the paperwork and work with some amazing people based in Beijing who will prep the animals for flying out from the airport. You will meet with them at your carrier's departure desk and the animals will be in crates and transported in the climate-controlled cargo compartment. We will walk you through the entire process, and when you arrive at your destination, you will retrieve the animals from customs and representative of our partnership organizations will be there to pick up the animals from you and take them to their new lives!
Q: How much will the trip cost?
A: This depends on where you are flying from and length of stay. At this time, volunteers are responsible for all of their travel expenses. You can anticipate spending anywhere in the range of $1800-$2,500. This will cover costs for your flight, visa/passport, food, possible lodging, and occasional taxis.
***Please keep in mind that fundraising is a great option to help you raise funds for China! Once your trip is finalized we can guide you through any info you will need for fundraising.