Marc Ching amassed a large, supportive following for his multi-country trips to Asia, where he rescues dogs who have been subjected to torture.
“Anything you can think of, they’re doing. Smashing feet with hammers and just letting them suffer. I’ve seen them poke out eyeballs and cut their ears off — mass mutilation, just hanging them, cutting their heads off with machetes.”
He’s seen dogs who have been boiled and burned alive and others who have had their eyes sewn open and their “faces stapled back.” Still others have been beaten with bats while hanging from ropes.
Anti-Media recently met with Ching at his non-profit Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation just north of Los Angeles in Sherman Oaks, California, where he helps rehabilitate the tortured dogs he rescues, as well as other local victims of animal cruelty. He also runs The PetStaurant next door, which offers organic foods and homeopathic treatments for pets.
Ching, who is currently on his eighth trip to rescue dogs and just shut down his seventh slaughterhouse, spoke with us recently about the heartbreaking experience he has had while going undercover in China and elsewhere — and how his ragtag rescue operation is changing the fate of countless suffering dogs.
Stolen pets served at the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival
In some Asian cultures, torture against animals is believed by those who inflict it to produce medicinal qualities in the meat because the torture stresses the dog out, prompting its body to produce adrenaline. Often, the dogs are tortured in front of other caged ones, intentionally, to further stress the caged dogs before they are tortured, killed, and ultimately eaten. Ching, a vegan, says that while it’s not his place to scold people for eating dogs — Americans eat plenty of mammals — he felt compelled to take direct action to combat the torture.
[Warning: graphic content below]
He was first inspired to rescue tortured dogs after he heard about the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. The event, held every June in Yulin, a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China, has faced global criticismand protest in recent years. As many as 10,000 dogs and cats are tortured and slaughtered every year, and in many cases, Ching says — not just in China — the dogs jammed into cages are stolen pets. A four-year investigation by the activist organization, Animal Asia, found the majority of dogs in the Chinese meat trade were stolen pets. Ching says he has seen collars lying around the slaughterhouses to prove it.
Rescuing 1,000 dogs
Ching, who grew up in Hawaii, says his involvement in Yulin was a natural outgrowth of his desire to help those in need. He worked to rescue abused and vulnerable animals long before he heard about Yulin.
“I think without being able to do what I do here, I wouldn’t be successful in the rescue,” he reflected.
Further, as a father of two, he says seeing helpless animals suffer hits close to home, and he believes it is his responsibility to take action.
Ching began posing as an undercover dog meat buyer for the trade in America. He says slaughterhouse owners in Yulin know little about the United States, including whether or not there is a dog meat trade there. This allowed him to pose as a businessman. With the help of Chinese locals and a translator, he was able to make contacts with slaughterhouse owners, which allowed him to gather intel on their practices, including the quantity of dogs they house and the methods of torture.
Though Ching started by directly purchasing dogs, he shifted strategies amid concerns that doing so provided incentive to slaughterhouse owners to keep torturing and killing the dogs. If people can get paid for torturing animals, some animal rights groups reason, they will continue to do it.
Ching now attempts to negotiate openly and directly with the slaughterhouse owners by paying them to change their practices rather than purchasing the dogs outright.
During his most recent trip this June, he successfully convinced six of twelve Yulin slaughterhouse owners to temporarily shut down for the festival, and in the process, he rescued 1,000 dogs. He works to place those dogs with hospitals and veterinarians for treatment and recovery. Humane Society International agreed to take 200 of them.
In spite of this success and the widespread support he enjoys on social media, Ching has faced obstacles. Before he embarked on his most recent trip, he told LA Weekly he has faced ongoing attacks for his efforts. “[H]e says he’s been assaulted, shot at, hospitalized and ‘almost died, like, four times,’” the magazine reported.
Ching told Anti-Media that even the Chinese government has attempted to impede his efforts. One of his goals for his latest trip to Yulin was to set up projectors throughout the city to display footage of dogs being tortured, as he believes education is key to ending the practice. But upon entry into the country, he says his microchip for his camera was confiscated.
Further, plainclothes cops followed him through the city in an attempt to scare owners away from talking to him. And it worked. Some slaughterhouse owners refused to speak with him because they were afraid of the police officers following him around. Ching says he knew they were officers because, when he asked them, they flatly informed him of their identity.
“My first day in Yulin — all the places I went to — I got no deals because of the pressure,” he explained. “Every time I tried to talk to a slaughterhouse owner, all these cops would jump in. So the second day, I spent the first two hours losing the police, running through hotels, jumping into [trash]cans . . . jumping out into the middle of the street, running with my translator. . . . It was pretty intense.”
Ching believes the Chinese authorities targeted him in an attempt to suppress information about Yulin from the rest of the world, an increasingly moot effort considering global awareness of the festival continues to grow. But Ching maintains that the Chinese government could make huge strides — and improve their public image — by taking action against the festival.
“My whole goal is to get a government meeting,” he says, arguing “China has the chance to step up and be the face of humanitarianism in the Asian community.”
Nevertheless, he also told Anti-Media that, while Yulin is treacherous, the targeted press coverage of this festival in particular has made the perception worse than reality. In contrast, he says other parts of the world that participate in the dog meat trade are worse than global perception when it comes to torture.
“A capital of torture”
To date, Ching has taken seven multi-country trips in his quest to rescue tortured dogs. He has been to Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea, where he has witnessed varying degrees of torture. According to Ching, slaughterhouses in Vietnam, for example, hardly torture at all. But other countries, like Indonesia, have seemingly unmitigated practices.
In the streets of Tomohon, Indonesia, which is known for its dog meat trade, people are openly “hanging them, burning them, smashing their feet, smashing their ribs, burning them alive. Dogs are screaming,” he says.
“You will never see a worse place ever. . . . [It’s] a capital of torture,” Ching says, clarifying his assessment is based on his own experiences. “They don’t just torture dogs; they torture cats, bats, all kinds of stuff,” including monkeys. Other reports have highlighted the severity and openness of torture in Tomohon.
Ching says he has been able to schedule a meeting with the Indonesian government, during which he will have a chance to make his case against torture and offer alternatives.
One such alternative was implemented in Cambodia, where he convinced one torturing slaughterhouse owner to open a different business— a vegetarian noodle restaurant. He is funding the first six months of the owner’s expenses to help him get established. Even if the owner reverts to the dog meat trade, six months’ worth of torture will have been prevented.
“Without the help of the locals, the rescue is impossible”
Ching has struggled to find peace amid the dark, traumatic trips he takes to rescue dogs. But while the practices are gruesome, he was careful to emphasize that not all people in the countries he visits support torturing dogs.
“People should know this [torture] is not everywhere in the industry,” he says. “I went to six slaughterhouses in Cambodia. Three of them tortured. On trip five — I think it was trip five — I went to North Vietnam. I went to tons of slaughterhouses – only one [tortured]. And it wasn’t even what I would consider torture.”
Further, he says, without the help of locals, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does.
According to Ching, those in Western countries who hear about his work and the devastating torture practices often rush to collectivize all citizens of the Asian nations where it happens. He explicitly clarified these generalizations are unfounded.
“They [critics of these countries] don’t realize, though, that it represents a small population of the country that’s doing these things. Dog eating in China and Korea and some places is still pretty popular. But there’s a growing ideology that’s totally against these things — totally. Without the help of the locals, the rescue is impossible.”
The locals help him make contacts with the slaughterhouses, which is especially helpful because the more people he brings with him into a country, the harder it is for him to move around efficiently. By enlisting the help of locals, he is able to enjoy unprecedented access to the communities where torturing practices are prominent.
And while some locals undoubtedly do support and participate in the practice, Ching reserves judgment.
“The Chinese people, even the people of Yulin, they’re good people. It’s no different from in America . . . [though] the value system might be different. All they need to do is to be taught. Not persecuted, but taught.”
“If people all did little things . . . it would change”
His emphasis on education extends to the global community, which he believes is vital to stopping the practice:
“There’s a lot of people who close their eyes to what they see, or can’t watch, or can’t look at the pictures, but then you enable [the slaughterhouses] to keep doing what they’re doing. If all the people shared and talked to other people about what’s happening, one million grows to 100 million, and without that pressure, nothing changes. That is how people can help more than anything.”
“Another good way,” he adds, “is [people] can adopt a dog from us.” This not only rescues the dog, but also allows its new owner to act as an ambassador and inform others of the efforts to save other dogs.
Asked what he wanted our audience to know, he said:
“A lot of people ask in comments, ‘How can I help’ or ‘How can I do this?’ I really feel we don’t need instruction. Even if you go down the street and you hug someone who’s crying, those situations can set off these huge ripples in life that might save somebody’s life. And so I look at it like, if people do a little more than less, even just small things, the overall change is so dynamic.
“And that’s really who I am: I’m a regular guy who does little things. And if people all did little things, which I know many people do, it would change.”
One of those little things is saving helpless victims who can’t help themselves. But they are victims who, by nature, it seems, have the resilience to bounce back.
“[T]he before and after is so dramatic. We have this dog, Samson — this dog was boiled — and man, this dog’s in a house and is such a great dog,” he shared.
“The change is just unbelievable. It’s pretty miraculous.”
Visit his website here for more information on how to support him or adopt a dog.
This article (Meet the Man Who Almost Died Four Times Saving Over 1,000 Dogs From Torture) was originally created and published by The Anti-Media and is re-posted here with permission.
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