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Tag: vietnam

A kind of ban may kind of be in effect at next month’s Yulin dog meat festival

festival

It might not be permanent, and it might not be too strictly enforced, but Chinese authorities have banned dog meat sales at this year’s upcoming Yulin dog-eating festival, according to two U.S. nonprofit organizations.

Thousands of dogs are slaughtered, cooked and served each year at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival festival in Yulin to mark the summer solstice.

This year, though, amid growing protests and international opposition, the Yulin government has, at least reportedly, banned the city’s dog meat vendors from selling the meat for one week starting June 15.

That’s according to several animal welfare organizations who say they’ve received “word” — if not documentation — of the ban.

The 10-day festival is slated to begin on June 21.

The Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project and Humane Society International (HSI), both based in the U.S., said in a joint statement that they’d confirmed the ban through unidentified local contacts.

“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” Andrea Gung, executive director of the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, said in the statement.

The organizations attributed the change to Yulin’s new Communist Party secretary, Mo Gongming, who reportedly wants to improve Yulin’s national and international image.

The ban will carry penalties, with fines of up to $14,500 and jail time for violators.

Yulin officials are not verifying the report, but they say they’ve never officially sanctioned the festival in the first place, and some apparently decline to acknowledge it exists.

“There’s never been a dog meat festival in Yulin,” the Los Angeles Times quoted a municipal official as saying this week.

While some media outlets are reporting the festival has been cancelled, that doesn’t appear to be the case, National Geographic reports.

“The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet,” Peter Li, a China policy specialist at Humane Society International, said in a statement. “But if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade.”

People in parts of China, as well as other Asian countries, have prized dog meat for centuries, though its consumption has been on the decline as pets become more popular, especially among younger people. Some older residents still consider it a delicacy with health benefits.

The dog meat festival, on the other hand, is relatively new, having started in 2010 and quickly become an object of international scorn.

The festival’s dog meat sales have dropped each year since 2014, according to Li. He expects, even with the ban, such sales will be going on during the festival.

“It won’t be public resistance … they’ll probably do it secretly,” he said. “They’ll probably sell it at night, or they’ll supply dog meat to restaurants. They just won’t sell it at the market.”

While he hadn’t seen anything documenting the ban, the organization heard about it from local dog meat traders, as well as three visitors to a local market, he said.

Most Chinese people would like to see an end to the festival, according to a survey cited by China’s official New China News Agency.

“It is embarrassing to us that the world wrongly believes that the brutally cruel Yulin festival is part of Chinese culture,” Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association charity, a Chinese animal welfare group, told the agency. “It isn’t.”

(For more stories about the dog meat trade, click here.)

(Photo: A vendor waits for buyers at a market in Yulin during last year’s festival; by Wu Hong/ EPA, via NBC)

Five-year-old Vietnamese girl finds her dog, roasted, at roadside meat market

vietgirl

A photo of a five-year-old Vietnamese girl who reportedly found her missing pet dog at a roadside market — roasted and on display in a flat woven basket — has gone viral, leading to new-found furor over the age-old tradition of eating dog in some Asian countries.

The story behind the photo is only loosely documented. The Daily Mail reports, without attribution, that the girl lives in the countryside of north Vietnam, and that she had raised the dog, named Flower, for three years.

vietnam2A few days after Flower went missing, the girl was walking by a street market and saw what she thought was Flower, roasted and with her paws removed.

“That’s Flower,” the girl reportedly cried as she rushed over to the dog.

The photo has gone viral, leading to renewed calls for ending the practice — among some in Korea, China and Vietnam — of eating dog meat.

While most of the meat comes from farm-raised dogs, runaways and stray dogs often end up at the roadside markets.

The photo was posted on a social media website initially, and has since been widely shared and picked up by the news media (though few media outlets seem to have done any actual reporting).

Interestingly, some media outlets are shielding their readers from seeing the image in full. The Daily Mail, for example, showed the entire photo, but, for some reason, saw fit to blur out the dog’s face. Others warn readers of graphic images ahead, or make you click a few more times before viewing the full image. Few seem to have done any actual reporting

That strikes me as hypocritical, and as a bit of a tease, and as contrary to the mission of the news media, which is not to shield us from going on, but to show us what’s going on — with un-blurred photos and un-blurred facts.

How a dog named Scout avoided becoming dinner and became the life of the party

scout

Talk about your culture shock.

One week, this chow mix appeared destined to become somebody’s dinner. The next — after being rescued from a dog meat market in Yulin, China — he was mingling with celebrities and members of congress at a Humane Society of the United States’s (HSUS) gala in Washington, D.C.

Just two nights after arriving in the U.S., the dog, since named Scout, was the life of the party at a fundraiser that brought in more than $100,000 in pledges for Humane Society International (HSI) to open an office in Vietnam that will work to end the custom of eating dogs, according to HSUS Chief Program and Policy Officer Mike Markarian

The event was part of last week’s Taking Action for Animals conference.

Dog meat for sale in a shop in Yulin city, Guangxi province June 20, 2014.Scout was one of 200 dogs recently rescued by Chinese animal protection activists from a dog meat market in Yulin.

Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China specialist, was in Yulin with other activists protesting a dog meat festival.

He came across Scout and another pup, sharing a small cage on the back of a motorcycle, and purchased them from a vendor, according to a Humane Society blog. Li kept one of the dogs and shipped the other to the U.S.

Days later, rather than being dinner, Scout attended one, where he was showered with attention, according to Animal Issues Reporter.

While the 12-week-old dog has landed in the lap of luxury, Scout will likely be earning his keep, becoming a poster boy in the campaign to end the consumption of dogs by some humans in some Asian countries

“I would really like to make sure he’s an ambassador to the community” said Leslie Barcus, HSI board member and executive director of VegFund, who adopted Scout. “We could use his help for educational purposes about the plight of street dogs and of dogs used as food —  for human consumption –across Asia and other parts of the world. He’ll be in the community a lot, and he’ll be a friend of everybody.”

(Photos: HSUS)

Dying Vietnam War vet gets his last wish — one more visit with Mr. Cutie

A dying Vietnam veteran was granted his last wish — one final visit with his dog, Mr. Cutie.

John Simpson, who is living at a hospice and who doctors say has only days to live, saw his dog last Saturday, when a neighbor caring for the Chihuahua brought him by for a visit.

His hopes for one more visit were dashed when, the next day, Mr. Cutie escaped by digging a hole under a fence.

“I really think he was looking for John,” neighbor Ann Marie Gemmel told MyFoxTampaBay.com.

Simpson, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, said in an interview after Mr. Cutie went missing that the dog was his  “spark of life,” and what he was living for.

“When you’re growing up you’re asked, ‘If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?’ Back in those days, I used to say, ‘As many wishes as I could wish for.’ Now my only wish would be for my dog to come home,” he said.

On Friday, Mr. Cutie was found by Missy Figueroa, who didn’t know Simpson. She took photos of the dog and posted them on the website FidoFinder.com.

A Fox 13 viewer who had seen the TV news report on Simpson’s missing dog saw the post and called the TV station, which passed the information along to Figueroa.

Unsure whether it was Simpson’s dog, Figueroa brought the Chihuahua to the hospice.

The reaction of dog and owner upon their reunion confirmed it was Mr. Cutie she had found.

“Seeing this person that I don’t even know, you know, so excited to see his dog, it just makes me happy that I actually got to be here for that and just make him happy,” Figueroa said.

Said Simpson, “I’m about to cry …”

Documentary looks at Thai dog smugglers

As many as 200,000 dogs a year are smuggled out of Thailand, across the Mekong River and into Vietnam. The cruel journeys — in which the dogs are crammed in cages — last for days. The destination is even, by Western standards, meaner yet.

While smuggling the dogs is illegal, killing, cooking and eating them is not, and remains a tradition among some  in China, Vietnam and South Korea.

This CNN report, based on a new documentary, The Shadow Trade, looks at both the supply and the demand — and the cruel road between the two.

Dogs commonly become dehydrated, stressed, and die during the trips, in which they are packed 20 or more to a cage, and 1,000 or more to a truck.

“Obviously when you’ve got dogs stacked on top of each other they start biting each other because they are so uncomfortable, any kind of movement then the dog next to the one that’s being crushed is going to bite back,” said Tuan Bendixsen, director of Animals Asia Foundation Vietnam, a Hanoi-based animal welfare group.

When they arrive in Vietnam, the dogs are bludgeoned to death and have their throats slit before they are butchered for their meat.

Some animal rights activisists say the stress all that inflicts, even before death, is intentional — that some believe the stress and fear release hormones that improves the taste of the meat.

While some of the dogs rounded up in Thailand are strays — known as soi dogs — John Dalley of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation estimates 98% of them are domesticated and says some are wearing collars and have been trained and respond to commands.

“You can see all types of pedigree animals in these captured Thai shipments — golden retrievers, long-haired terriers, you name it,” says Dalley. “Some are bought. Others are snatched from streets, temples, and even people’s gardens.”

A dog in Thailand can sell for $10, according to animal rights activists, but they’re worth $60 once they are served up in restaurants in Vietnam, where they estimate a million dogs a year are eaten.

The trade is illegal in Thailand, but, with no animal cruelty laws, traders are commonly charged with illegally transporting animals.  The smugglers usually receive sentences of just a few months in jail. And the dogs taken from them often wind up being captured again by traders, and shipped again to Vietnam to become meat.

Johnny finds his harmonica

Sometimes, what sounds like noise is really music. Sometimes, what looks like trouble can be a joy.

I’d pulled into a trailer court to turn around after my visit to the Howdy Manor  when a voice called out: “Hey, bro!”

It being a neighborhood that’s even sketchier than it was 35  years ago, when I briefly lived in it, I was going to pull out when I heard it again. “Hey, bro!”

So I rolled to a stop there in the driveway next to the Bucking Bronc motel and trailer court, a couple of motels down from the Howdy Manor.

Four people — three men and a woman — were sitting in front of a trailer enjoying beverages that included beer and vodka. One of them approached my car, with something in his hand.

“I want you to have this,” he said.

Thinking he might have mistaken me for a drug buyer, I was ready to beg off when he passed it through my open window.

It was a children’s book — “Touch and Feel Wild Animals.”

I hesitated to open it, fearing some illicit narcotics might be hidden between its pages — that maybe children’s books were the drug dealer’s delivery method of choice in this particular neighborhood.

Seeing my skepticism, he grabbed it back and opened it himself, showing how, through the holes in the cardboard, you could touch the fake fur and fake skin and get an idea what each animal — tiger, lion, alligator, polar bear, chimpanzee — feels like.

“Tiger, tiger, running through the grass, your black-and-orange stripes go quickly past,” read the first page. “Tiger, tiger, I can hear you growl, as you get ready to go on the prowl.”

I wasn’t sure why I deserved the book, and told him he really should give to a child. He explained that he saw the ohmidog! magnet on my car door, and figured I liked animals. I should have it, he said.

I was waiting for him to quote a price, but he never did. Instead he asked about my dog. I got out and popped open the back door to let Ace out. He greeted the man with the book, then went over to see the rest of the gang.

He snuggled with Sherry, and knocked over her bottle of beer. She didn’t mind at all.

Then he met Johnny, who said he was a former Marine and Vietnam vet who now sells newspapers to get by.

There used to be two daily newspapers in town. He sells copies of the remaining one, the Arizona Daily Star, where 35 years ago, I used to work as a reporter. The newspaper costs 75 cents now, but Johnny sells them for less. My suspicion — and perhaps it’s just my cynicism again — is he pays for one paper, then pulls them all out of the vending machine and sells them on the street. Call him an entrepreneur.

He said he also plays the harmonica, and he asked if I’d like to hear a song. At that point, he grabbed his knapsack and began rooting through it. Ace helped.

Ten minutes later, he was still looking. When you carry your life in a knapsack, things can be hard to find.

I asked them if they lived in the trailer court, and they said they didn’t — that they just lived “around.”

After another five minutes, Johnny’s search paid off, and he pulled a slightly rusty  harmonica out of his bag.

Johnny sat on a plastic chair, Sherry on a cinderblock. I took a seat on the guest rock — actually a rock atop a cinderblock, which functioned kind of like a rocking chair. Everyone’s jackets hung on a nearby tree.

Johnny brought the harmonica to his mouth and started playing a happy but unidentifiable song. Everyone tapped their feet and hummed along, and one member of the group started howling like a dog, leading Ace to look at him with tilted head.

I love the tilted head — a dog’s transparent, non-judgmental way of expressing puzzlement when he hears or sees something different. It seems to say — and here I am wrongly interpreting dog behavior by human standards — “I don’t get this … I will turn my head slightly to the side and focus even harder to understand.”

If only humans could do that. Instead, when we see something different, we far too often judge, frown and walk away. As adults, our childish curiosity gets crusted over with cynicism — to the point we can get fearful of something as innocuous as a “touch and feel” children’s book.

Johnny played for about five minutes, and the song never really came to a distinct ending; it just kind of tailed off, once Johnny switched from harmonica to the vodka bottle.

I thanked them for allowing us to hang out, wished them all the best and headed for my car — feeling I’d made some new fleeting friends, but still, being human, expecting to be asked for money. They had, after all provided me with a book and musical entertainment.

As I started the car, the man who’d given me the “touch and feel” book appeared at my window. But all he did was shake my hand one last time.

“Vaya con Dios,” he said.

Students’ hard work foiled by thief

Students at Woodlands High School in Conroe, Texas raised $9,000 to help purchase a land-mine sniffing dog — only to see the money snatched by a thief.

Teacher Susan Hollier  said about 2,000 people from across the community attended a Woodlands High School walk and fundraising festival on Saturday.

Two student clubs — Interact and the Council on International Affairs — started working on the project in February, with hopes of raising $20,000 to pay for the purchase and training of a Belgian Malinois. The dogs are sent around the world to detect mines so communities in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam can use the land again.

Part of the money raised was also going to pay for a Woodlands High student to travel to Bosnia to see the dogs in action. The clubs’ project dog was going to visit the high school in May.

Around noon Saturday, though, a suspect grabbed a box of donated money from a student and ran, according to the Houston Chronicle. Hollier said all but $253 was stolen.

“It’s really just heartbreaking, especially when this one dog would save up to 10,000 lives in its five to seven years of service,” said Shelby Howard, 18, president of Interact. “It’s really hard to see all our hard work just taken from us in a matter of seconds. It’s hard to believe someone would go to that level.”

What are the clubs going to do about it? Start all over again, Shelby said. “We’re definitely not going to just let it go. This is a worthy cause.”