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Sad reality of dog meat trade

This wasn’t the way it was meant to turn out – well not if you believe in fairy stories. The 149 rescued dogs would settle down in their new rescue centre, contented and safe, and would all live happily ever after.

Sadly of course this is the real world and we have had to steel ourselves for the sobering reality. These dogs have not been raised in a warm and loving home, with good food, a doting family and a soft bed to sleep on at night. The photos that follow were all taken on the day of the rescue.

They were mostly raised on poor rural farms – often chained and acting as guard dogs, sleeping outside with no shelter, and fed rice, scraps and even human faeces. When the dogs are about a year old, a middle-man comes to the door, buys them, cages them, and takes them off to the market.

Sometimes people sell their pets – especially if they are old or sick and costing too much to treat. (I remember seeing on one market trip years ago a man get off a motorbike with his white dog under his arm and thrust it into the trader's arms, saying “he’s sick, kill him”. Fortunately for that dog, Anneleise and I watched in horror before offering some money and taking the dog away. Basil was much-loved in the short time before he died.)

But here today, at the Qiming Rescue Centre that we support, are over 140 dogs – some of them diseased, aggressive and out of their minds with fear. Unfortunately there is just not the space at the centre to divide and manage as we’d like and we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put those dogs to sleep that were struggling with disease or violently attacking the other dogs.

By 8pm, on a bitterly cold night, 17 dogs had been sadly euthanised and I looked to our staff – Rainbow, Suki, Christine, Rocky, Wang Li, Jaime, Li He, Zhang Xiao Bing, Leanne, Wendy, Hayley and Emily, with as much pride as anyone can have. Here was a team charged with a thankless, horrible job of killing a species that they loved, without a thought for their own hearts, which would have been breaking inside. All I know is that rescued earthquake dog, Tremor, got a hug for them all when I returned to my room that night.

And now we have to keep everything crossed that the ones that remain are safe. It is certainly not a given because that awful demon, rabies, is never far from our minds, considering just how aggressive some of those dogs were. Tissue samples from them all will be examined over the next few days in the hope, please God, that none of them is carrying this deadly disease.

Thankfully as said in my previous blog, the majority of dogs are beginning to come round. The young grey/black pup – fast growing in size and confidence – rockets up to you before skidding to a clumsy, juddering halt and smiling, wide-mouthed, up into your eyes. She has boundless joy and I've called her Monty because it’s such a happy name for a happy dog, who never actually realised her fate.

As for our Eddie look-alike, the previous distance between us (as she approached and then scuttled away before), is now non-existent as she bounced up to us on Friday with all the happiness of a dog that has rediscovered trust.

We're calling her Little Eddie, after her namesake. She is quite nervous still, but I'm hoping that her new and rather lovely name can encourage a nature that will see her one day become one of our Dr Dog ambassadors in China.

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