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Monday, December 2,2019

Eat Me?

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
In the past few years, many of us have been horrified about the Yulin Meat Festival in China. How much do you know about it? True or False?

• The Yulin Meat Festival is a longstanding tradition and cultural festival.

• Dogs raised for the meat trade are feral mutts, like common farm animals.

• Dog meat is an available, inexpensive resource to feed disadvantaged populations.

• Consuming dogs is gaining favorability in China, Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia.

• There is little we can do to stop the cultural practice of dogs being tortured, slaughtered and eaten.

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is relatively new. It began in 2009, conceived by the dog meat trade to boost lagging demand and create tourism. Held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, this annual summer solstice celebration spans 10 days. An estimated 10,000- plus dogs (and cats) are tortured, skinned and cooked alive. It is a cultural belief this tenderizes the flesh and enhances flavor due to the animal’s adrenalin being released.

Shelters can be the source of ongoing inventory, due to Beijing’s One Dog Policy, which forbids residents from owning more than one dog OR a dog over 14 inches tall. Strays are taken from the streets. Pets are stolen from homes/yards. Trafficked by dog meat traders, they are sold by the pound. They are then warehoused, given the bare minimum of space, food and water. Fights break out due to stress and aggression. They endure a horrendous, inhumane death.

Contrary to popular belief, dog meat is NOT inexpensive or readily available. Pressure and international media attention are causing the dog meat trade to plummet. The practice of eating companion animals is increasingly frowned upon by younger generations.

Recently, I met one of the lucky ones.

Benny is a handsome, three-to-fouryear-old, purebred Old English sheepdog. He could have been a stolen pet or a victim of the One Dog Policy. In any case, he was destined for dinner – not as a guest, but as the main course, “tender or fragrant meat,” the mutton of the Earth.

Along with a pack of golden retrievers being harbored by monks, Benny’s life was spared when Big Dog Ranch Rescue stepped up. Significant planning and funding, along with months of preparation were implemented to get dogs to safety, documented, immunized, vetted, and air-transported to South Florida. Having endured canine concentration camp, most of the dogs coming from China are underweight, scarred and traumatized.

Healing from her beloved Aussie succumbing to cancer in February, Maureen Barber was ready. She visited Big (and Little) Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee, FL. “It was love at first sight,’’ she shared. “What Benny lacks in manners, he makes up for in cuddles and comedy. He is so affable, I have no doubt a family loved him.” Benny is gaining weight, learning English commands and house manners, and making lots of friends. Maureen’s cats have accepted the energetic new addition. There is talk about him earning his CGC and becoming a therapy dog. One thing’s for sure: Benny is off the menu, as he serves love with a heaping helping of gratitude.

Maybe you cannot add a furry former Chinese resident to your pack. But, everyone can do something: one thought, one dollar, and one bite at a time:

• Instead of being angry and voicing obvious shared opinions on the dog meat industry, start with your own meals.

Why is a dog so different than a pig, chicken or cow? All are sentient beings with families, feelings and a right to life. Chances are high, you are ingesting misery and suffering by eating animal products.

• Contribute dollars/supplies, attend an event or volunteer with a local rescue.

• Take action with reputable organizations. Sign petitions, make a donation, support those assisting the lucky few.


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