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Dogs saved from slaughterhouses in Asia now work as UK therapy dogs

Activists in China and Korea work hard to save dogs from becoming food (Picture: Humane Society International)

Two dogs rescued from the meat trade in China and South Korea have been given a new chance at life in the UK.

Despite the brutal conditions they suffered, Rosie and Henry are still trusting enough of humans to work as pet therapy dogs.

They have put their past behind them and both love their new jobs helping students and care home residents cope with stress, anxiety and loneliness.

It comes as the infamous Yulin dog meat festival in China’s Guangxi Autonomous begins next Tuesday.

Meanwhile South Korea’s hottest days of summer in July and August traditionally see a rise in dog meat dishes being eaten.

Rosie was one of 135 dogs saved by Humane Society International’s (HSI) Chinese partner group from a dog slaughterhouse in Yulin in 2018.

She and four others saved that day were flown to the UK to find loving homes, and Rosie fell on her paws when she was adopted by Kirsten McLintock.

Her new owner has since registered her as a pet therapy dog ​​working at Bedales School in Hampshire, whose alumni include Minnie Driver, Cara Delevingne and Daniel Day Lewis.

In China, the majority of dogs slaughtered for meat are stolen pets or strays grabbed off the streets.

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35 of the 135 dogs rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse, arrive at HSI's partner shelter in North China.  yulin2018

Dogs in these facilities are kept in dirty and cramped cages after being stolen as pets

Rosie now enjoys a new life as a therapy dog ​​at Bedales School in Hampshire

She was most likely stolen from her original owner in China and transported hundreds of thousands by truck

The best chance that Chinese activists have of rescuing them is if they intercept a truck of dogs on the highway.

They can then alert the police, who can confiscate the dogs if the diver can’t produce the legally required health certificates and quarantine papers needed to transport live animals across provincial borders.

Because the dogs are stolen, they typically don’t have these papers, but saving them becomes more tricky once they reach the slaughterhouse.

But because these facilities are essentially illegal and the dogs are stolen, it is still possible to persuade operators to give up the dogs so police don’t get involved.

Rosie was most likely stolen from her original home in China and trafficked hundreds of thousands, crammed in a tiny cage on the back of a truck.

She was then dumped in a filthy slaughterhouse where she was due to be bludgeoned to death and bled out for dog meat dishes.

35 of the 135 dogs rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse, arrive at HSI's partner shelter in North China.  yulin2018

Those lucky enough to be rescued are often given a chance at a new life, sometimes in a new country

A group of 135 dogs were rescued from dog slaughterhouses in Yulin, China, before the start of the dog meat festival, in June 2018. The rescue operation was conducted by Humane Society International's Chinese partner group plus two other groups who did not wish to be identified.  yulin2018

Dogs are often bludgeoned to death before being bled out and cut out for their meat

35 of the 135 dogs rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse, arrive at HSI's partner shelter in North China.  yulin2018

In 2018, HSI activists rescued 135 dogs from a slaughterhouse in Yulin – home to the notorious dog meat festival

Lily is one of the 35 dogs settling at HSI's shelter in North China, and one of the 135 dogs HSI rescued from a slaughterhouse in Yulin.  yulin2018

Lily is one of the 35 dogs settling at HSI’s shelter in northern China

Her role as a stress and anxiety reducer has been incredibly powerful post Covid-19 lockdown, which impacted the mental wellbeing of many students.

Rosie is spoiled by the support staff, students and visitors alike, happily roams around the school site greeting everyone, chasing squirrels and living her best life.

Kirsten McLintock says: ‘Rosie’s temperament is incredibly soft, gentle, and loving. She is adored by the students who are familiar with the calming presence she brings to their weekly wellbeing lessons.

‘It’s clear that she must have been someone’s stolen pet, as from her first arrival she was house trained and used to have a collar and walking on the lead.’

Kirsten says Rosie’s latest discovery is the beach and does a ‘happy dance and bottom wiggle’ when she reaches the sand.

Henry the golden retriever was rescued by HSI in 2017 from a dog meat farm in South Korea.

Mocha, second from left, and Abbie, second from right, the UK bound puppies, are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, on Friday, September 22, 2017. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.  In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Mocha, second from left, and Abbie, second from right, locked up at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea (Picture: Jean Chung)

HSI/UK director Claire Bass kisses Henry inside his cage before going on to adopt him herself

Pete Wicks, a UK celebrity, holds Stacey, an LA-bound dog at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.  In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Actor Pete Wicks holds Stacey, an LA-bound dog, at the Namyangju farm (Picture: Jean Chung)

There he would most likely have been killed by electrocution during the summer months, when dog meat soup is often favored during the hottest days, known as Bok Nal.

South Korea is the only country in Asia to intensively breed dogs for human consumption, with thousands of farms spread across the country.

Since 2015, HSI/Korea has been working with dog farmers who want to leave the increasingly controversial industry.

Activists have been helping them close their farms, providing them with a one-off grant so they can transition into a more humane and profitable trade like growing chilli plants or water parsley.

They sign a legally binding 20-year contract with us never to farm dogs or any animals again, and we rescue all the dogs and have the caging dismantled.

HSI has shut down 17 farms as part of its Models For Change program, which hopes to show the South Korean government the dog meat industry can be phased out without conflict with farmers.

Claire Bass, HSI-UK Director, right, looks at the UK bound dogs to a truck at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, on Thursday, November 30, 2017. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.  In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

HSI activists work with farmers to help them transition to more humane industries (Picture: Jean Chung)

Henry now lives a very happy life in Brighton

He brings a smile to the faces of elderly residents at a care home in Hove

Henry now lives in Brighton with HSI/UK executive director Claire Bass and family, and is registered with Canine Concern, for whom he regularly visits a local residential care home in Hove.

Henry’s calm and gentle manner makes for the perfect companion for the elderly residents.

Claire said: ‘There’s clearly pleasure in the physical connection with his beautiful soft fur, but for many residents there’s a big emotional impact too.

‘Spending time with him often brings back a flood of happy memories of special animals they’ve had in their lives, and it’s lovely to help them revisit those bonds

‘It’s completely humbling to know where he started out in life, and to see him now gently bring so much joy to people.’

Claire added: ‘These dogs have been to hell and back, surviving China’s terrifying meat trade or South Korea’s miserable factory farms, but despite their ordeal, their resilience and forgiving nature shines through.

‘Contrary to the assumptions by many in the West, most people in China and South Korea don’t eat dogs and in fact most are rightly horrified at the thought of this trade.’

South Korea is the only country in Asia to intensively breed dogs to be eaten

The HSI Animal Rescue Team including Kitty Block, at right, President of HSI, rescue a dog at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.  In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

But the majority of the South Korean public reject the trade, and activists are working hard to stop it (Picture: Jean Chung)

Claire Bass, HSI-UK Director, at right, holds Mocha, a UK-bound dog in front of his cage at a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.  In South Korea, the campaign includes working to raise awareness among Koreans about the plight of meat dogs being no different from the animals more and more of them are keeping as pets.

Claire holds Mocha, a UK-bound dog in front of his cage at the Namyangju farm (Picture: Jean Chung)

Opinion polls show that 72% of citizens in Yulin don’t regularly eat dog, despite efforts by meat traders to promote it.

Nationwide, there is significant Chinese opposition to the dog meat trade as concerns for animal welfare grows.

In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not ‘livestock’ for eating.

That same year, two major cities in mainland China – Shenzhen and Zhuhai – banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling showed was supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens.

Opinion polls show that 84% of Koreans neither consume dog meat nor intend to in the future, even if they have done so in the past.

Of those Koreans who do eat dog meat, the majority (70%) consume it over Bok Nal.

Newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol has stated he would not oppose a dog meat ban provided there is social consensus.

Dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, as well as in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China.

It is also banned in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province and in 17 cities and regencies in Indonesia.

However, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat in other parts of Asia.

Click here to donate towards HSI’s mission to end the dog meat trade.

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