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The horrors of Maoshan – part 2

The market also doubles as a slaughterhouse – a round metal drum with orange spikes used for “de-furring” the cats and dogs sits just outside a burning cauldron that will be cooking their meat for customers towards lunchtime. 

Close by, truck after truck piled high with white goats begin arriving at the market, while donkeys are being dragged out of sheds and loaded into cages, trucked off to be slaughtered elsewhere. Frightened and exhausted, several have no strength to rise to their feet and the traders kick them in the stomachs and beat their backs with metal poles until they can stand the agony no more and rise on shaking legs. Even then, the abuse continues and the traders continue beating them and grabbing their tails, painfully twisting them into knots, and forcing the donkeys to climb up the metal ramps into the cages.

Christie says she is better in the market this time, but her sad eyes tell a different story, and Rainbow's face is ashen as he leans in to get a close-up of some trembling dogs crammed into cages. It is his first time. In reality, these places haunt you for days and weeks afterwards and we all work hard to keep positive at times like this.

But there is hope. Our 2nd China Companion Animal Symposium in November 2007 was as amazing and wonderful as the first. Nearly 40 group leaders – representing millions of people across the country – voting unanimously for goals that can turn the lives of these animals around. We have to persevere – and we will, because we can see the change each and every day.

Back in John’s vet clinic, we are prepared for him to say he would prefer to euthanise the two weak and tiny puppies. Administering two-hourly feeds over the following days is an enormous challenge for a vet already saturated with work in southern China. John just looks at them for two seconds before saying quietly, “let’s try”. Hope is eternal, but we are prepared for the worst knowing the origin of their disease-ridden birth.

If they pull through “Hope” and “Shame”, as we named these two little fur balls, will have a future as ambassadors for the dogs they left behind. My only regret is that I didn't walk around the market for a few minutes showing them to dogs that might have been their mother. As the light fades from their eyes, I so wish they could know that their babies are safe.

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