November 23, 2016
Saving dogs from China's dog meat trade
China is believed to kill (along with 4 million cats) more than 10 million of the estimated 30 million dogs slaughtered for human consumption annually worldwide. The majority are stolen pets and strays, grabbed from the street or from backyards, sometimes poisoned to ease capture. Hundreds of animals at a time are crammed together in cages and driven—sometimes for days—to their deaths. They are often sick or injured, and many die from shock, suffocation, dehydration or heatstroke long before they reach their destination. Those who survive the journey face a brutal and terrifying ordeal: being beaten to death or sometimes, even boiled alive at a slaughterhouse or market.
Despite the scale of this horror, dog eating is not widespread across China. Surveys show that a relatively small proportion of the population— around 20 percent—actually eats dog meat, and most Chinese citizens (69.5 percent of those surveyed in a 2016 poll commissioned by HSI/Avaaz) have never tried it. Eighty percent of dogs are slaughtered in three regions: South China, Central China and Northeast China.
HSI has been working in China for more than 10 years, in partnership with a network of 35 local animal protection groups in 24 cities across the country, and has become a leading global force to end China’s dog meat trade. As part of our year-round campaign, we assist our Chinese partners in rescuing thousands of dogs from slaughterhouse-bound trucks intercepted on the country's highways.
Our HSI-supported rescue team—China Animal Protection Power—stops the trucks and provides life-saving food and water to the animals during roadside negotiations with police to confiscate them. HSI trains these activists so that they have the veterinary first aid skills needed to save lives in these critical hours.
We also help fund and support a network of animal shelters across China for the rehabilitation and eventual adoption of these dogs into new loving homes. Many of the rescued dogs are incredibly sick or injured; our donors' generosity helps fund veterinary care to nurse them back to health, a warm bed and safe sanctuary so that they can recover and learn to trust again. It’s a sad fact that sending dogs to facilities with low standards of hygiene, veterinary care and poor management can lead to the animals' enduring even more suffering and ultimately perishing from disease, injuries or malnutrition, and that is why HSI only works with top-quality shelters. Our dedicated network of activists and shelters is a credit to China and its growing animal protection movement.
Why we avoid buying dogs
With more than 10 million dogs a year suffering in China’s dog meat trade, we realize that rescue alone will never be the solution to ending this cruel business.
Rescue is a small but important part of our broader strategy. We agree with the growing coalition of Chinese animal protection groups opposed to the quick fix of buying dogs from traders and slaughterhouses. No matter how well-meaning, buying dogs—especially the large-scale purchasing of dogs from slaughterhouses during China’s notorious Yulin dog meat festival—is ultimately counterproductive, risking the unintended consequence of artificially boosting the dog meat trade. Yulin slaughterhouses can even deliberately accumulate larger numbers of dogs knowing that animal campaigners will be their highest-paying customers. They don't care who they make their profits from, as long as the trade continues.
HSI is determined that we do not contribute to its perpetuation, and that is why our China rescues focus on year-round dog truck interceptions where dogs are legally confiscated, and on negotiated-for, relinquished dogs from slaughterhouses or markets, including where possible at Yulin.