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We Need to End the Cruel Dog Meat Trade

08/11/2015 08:19 EDT | Updated 08/11/2016 05:59 EDT
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Animal suffering is tough for anyone to stomach. It doesn't matter if you've been on the frontlines of animal welfare all your life because it never gets easier to look at. But what about cases of extreme abuse, where cruelty is so unthinkable that most people can't even comprehend its existence?

The commercial dog meat trade is such a scenario and I'm sorry to tell you that it is indeed very real. Throughout Asia, dogs are slaughtered in the millions for human consumption every year. There is even a "festival" in Yulin, China, dedicated to the consumption of dog meat.

Just weeks ago, the Humane Society International Animal Rescue team travelled to Yulin to expose this cruel festival to the world. What they saw was horrific -- dogs and cats crammed in cages, awaiting the same fate as the dogs and cats being slaughtered in front of them. Dogs being sold as meat are crammed in narrow cages that are stacked on big trucks and transported as far as 700 miles for the festival. The dogs often arrive sick or dead due to the terrible conditions they must endure.

But there is hope. Last June, activists intercepted eight trucks bound for the slaughterhouses, resulting in the rescue of more than 1,400 dogs. According to the Xinhua News Agency, 17 of 69 restaurants in Yulin that served dog have taken the meat off their menu, while another four have been shuttered by city authorities for food safety violations. In China, dog meat sales are down across the board and thousands of lives have been spared.

The first step to stopping the dog meat trade is to educate people and foster awareness about the cruelty of the trade. Hong Kong businessman turned philanthropist and film director Genlin has produced and directed a documentary that exposes the cruelty of the dog meat trade. The documentary, Eating Happiness, offers stark facts, like how 30 million dogs fall victim to the dog meat trade annually.

Investigators have observed dogs and cats still wearing their collars at slaughterhouses, evidence of the significant problem of pets being stolen for the trade. One family who visited a dog truck interception in Tianjin was reunited with their golden retriever who had been missing for three months.

So what can you do? Be informed, share what you know, support organizations with a proven track record of making a difference, and perhaps most importantly, make your voice heard by urging governments of all countries where the trade in dog meat exists to work diligently and quickly towards eradicating this cruel practice. In short: confront cruelty, and promote compassion. Visit hsi.org/dogmeat for more information.

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