Meet Marc Ching, founder of the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation and owner of The PetStaurant. This animal activist has made it his life goal to save as many dogs from the Asian pet-meat trade as possible – no matter what it takes.
It started with a trip to China
Last May, Ching heard about the summer solstice lychee and dog meat “festival” in Yulin, China. He was shocked to hear that such an inhumane practice could exist, and he decided to head to China to save as many dogs as possible.
Since that trip, Ching has made three more trips and managed to save a total of 249 dogs from some of the worst slaughterhouses. Unfortunately only 61 of the dogs survived.
For those unfortunate dogs who don’t make it to their new life, Ching drives them to the countryside and gives them a dignified burial.
“At least they knew in their last moments that someone cared for them,” he says.
He admits that his rescue missions to Asia have costed him mentally and physically, as he has been beaten, held hostage and had a machete put to his throat. He lives with terrible visions and memories of the slaughterhouses, but won’t allow it to deter him from his quest.
Since his first trip to China, Ching has streamlined the process a lot more and now has travel itineraries, translators and veterinarians to assist him.
So how does he get into the slaughterhouses? He poses as a wealthy American dog meat buyer.
“When I come into a country, I prep my translator for about two hours. He’ll tell the butchers, ‘This is my client, he’s a rich American, and he wants to buy dogs… because he’s going to kill them himself, prepare the meat, and export it to America.”
Before these trips, he contacts vets in the area to find out how many dogs they can take and treat for a few months. This determines the number of dogs they can save. So far Ching has brought back 46 dogs to the U.S., most of whom have found loving homes. He says that the cost of taking the dogs to the U.S. is expensive, and he tries to adopt out locally to Asian families who will never hurt their dogs.
Sorrow, a black-and-white French Bulldog he saved from a slaughterhouse in Tongzhou, China, is one of Ching's most special rescues.
“That’s a dog who means a lot to me because he’s become the face of what I do now, as so many people have seen that picture of him with his mouth and feet bound. That dog and the dogs I rescued from that slaughterhouse, they are miracles because once an animal enters a place like that, there’s no getting out — they were supposed to die. So I think people connect to that image because he really is a miracle.”
Not about donations
Ching’s rescue missions have been very costly, but he has managed to fund it due to his successful business. He goes on to say that he never wants people to pollute his efforts by saying he does it only for money. But he does appreciate the help he gets from passionate supporters.
“I lose a few hundred thousand dollars a year on these rescues because they’re so expensive. But in the end it’s worth it because this means so much to me.”
Set on rescuing as many dogs as possible, Ching is about to embark upon a fifth mission. This time to Thailand, Cambodia, northern Vietnam, South Korea, and Yulin, China. He thinks that this will be his most intense trip yet.