Shanghai is now hosting the 2019 World Dog Show, an event billed as a “joyful gathering for dog lovers and lovely dogs across the world.” Meanwhile, at restaurants just a few miles away, diners will partake of meat from dogs just as beautiful and lovable as the ones in the show.
The irony is impossible to escape, and that’s why Humane Society International is helping one of our Chinese partner groups in exposing the gruesome nature of the dog meat trade, which can even be found in major cities like Shanghai. Our Chinese colleagues have also rescued 22 lucky dogs from a slaughterhouse supplier outside Shanghai, and the animals — quite possibly stolen pets — are now at an HSI-supported shelter in China where they are being prepared for adoption.
Activists from the group, which asked to remain unnamed for security reasons, found at least three restaurants in Shanghai serving up dog meat soup for human consumption. One restaurant displayed several dog meat dishes on its menu and also advertised dog meat in its window, with a sign boasting that the meat is supplied by slaughterhouses in Xuzhou city (north of Shanghai), which is notorious for the country’s biggest dog meat processing industry.
The group located one slaughterhouse that supplied meat to the restaurant and found 22 dogs there who they rescued. Most of the dogs are small, lapdog-type breeds, the kind usually kept as pets in China. There were several clues that these dogs were likely stolen pets, including a pile of collars discarded in the corner.
The activists were able to negotiate the release of the dogs and rescue them. A video shows the dogs standing or sitting in a wire cage at the slaughterhouse, huddling together in fear. They have just witnessed other dogs being beaten to death, and are clearly terrified as they await their turn. Cut to the dogs after the rescue. They’re at the shelter where they’ve been given a full health check and treated for minor injuries, skin diseases and shock. Already they appear a happier bunch, eating, drinking water and going for walks. Some rush to the camera, wagging their tails. There is hope in their eyes.
HSI funding will support veterinary care and rehabilitation for the dogs as they are prepared for adoption. In time, the shelter will hold a special adoption event for local dog lovers. HSI will also fly a small number of the dogs to the United States to help them find loving homes and tell the world their story as part of our work to end the dog meat trade.
We couldn’t be happier for these dogs, but millions more need our help. This is an important time to shine the light on China’s dog meat trade: the infamous Yulin dog meat festival, where thousands of dogs and cats are butchered, will begin next month. Although the festival itself goes on for just a few days, it has come to symbolize, to the world, the cruelty of this trade that goes on year-round in China.
HSI, along with our Chinese partners, has been working to end China’s dog and cat meat trade for many years now, and we are calling on the Chinese government to end Yulin and this entire trade. China’s restrictive laws make it dangerous for HSI staff to be openly present at Yulin, but our amazing partner Chinese activists will be there, keeping the world’s eye trained on this shameful event.
The World Dog Show is evidence that more and more Chinese citizens now see dogs as companions and family members, and not as food. Many shun the cruelty of this trade. There are more than 91 million dogs being kept as pets in Chinese households, and the country’s pet retail market is expected to reach $36 billion by 2020. It is time for China to wake up to the fact that a booming pet care industry is of far greater benefit to its economy, and that putting an end to the dog meat trade will do wonders in enhancing its global reputation.