years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Difficult decisions taken to save as many dogs as possible
The rescue by the authorities of 149 dogs from dog-meat traders on New Year's Eve represented a big, and unusual, success for those of us who work to end the brutal rounding up and slaughter of dogs and cats for meat in China.
Everyone would wish for all of these dogs to be given the chance to be rehomed from the Qiming shelter into the loving care of people who could let them experience human kindness after all they have suffered at the hands of people. Sadly, the reality of managing these dogs means that, for some, this is simply not possible.
Most of these dogs will have been raised in the most miserable of circumstances, in many cases, specifically for sale to the meat traders. Some may have been used as guard dogs, chained outside with no shelter from the elements, and fed no more than scraps. Some may have been family pets that were either stolen or abandoned. All were either sold to, or rounded up by, the meat traders to be caged, transported and slaughtered in the cruelest of ways.
Up to now, most of these dogs have never experienced human kindness or any semblance of care. Now here they are, rescued from a grim death, but in many cases suffering from severe disease, out of their minds with fear, and not surprisingly in many cases being very aggressive towards each other, and towards the people who are now trying to help them.
The Qiming centre is well run by Chinese standards, but is a basic facility, with no resources to house these dogs individually, treat those with disease, manage those that were showing severe aggression, or hope to rehome such a large number of dogs. The centre already houses more than 200 other dogs that are looking for good homes.
With dogs showing signs of disease and behaving in an extremely aggressive manner, rabies was never far from our minds. The safety of our team, and that of the Qiming shelter staff, was therefore another vital consideration in the management of the dogs.
Unfortunately, we have had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put the sickest and most aggressive dogs to sleep. Our vet team and all those involved in the rescue have had this sad, thankless, horrible job thrust upon them. To have to euthanise any animal that we love is a heart-breaking experience, and never more so than now, with these dogs having already been through so much.
Preliminary results from laboratory tests have so far been negative for rabies, which is good news both for the remaining dogs and for the staff. Our highest priority is to try to ensure the Qiming centre remains rabies free, not only for the sake of the remaining rescued dogs, but also for all the dogs and staff at the centre.
Therefore, with many of the dogs still struggling with various illnesses and the possibility of other diseases presenting, it will be some time before we can say with confidence that the remaining dogs are truly safe.
We understand that many people, unfamiliar with the basic nature of the conditions in which we are working, may have difficulty understanding why we have had to make some of the decisions we have made. We can only say that the fault for this sad situation lies entirely with the traders and consumers of dog meat. If we can put a stop to this horrific and barbaric trade, then we can prevent this kind of situation ever arising again in the future.
For those dogs we have sadly had to euthanise, at least they spent their last days surrounded with compassion and kindness.