The Force of the Horse

US Activist’s Efforts to Rescue Dogs from Asia’s Meat Trade Draw Both Praise and Censure

by Susan Pi as published on Earth Island Journal

“Here at SFTHH and WHFF we are all about the safety and future well being of wild horses and burros but of course that concern extends to domestic equine and all wildlife in general.  You will see articles appear hear that speak to the uncalled for slaughter and/or abuse of bison, wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lion and the case of today’s article, domestic dogs.

I spent the past six years rotating in and of China on a monthly basis and unfortunately my eyes have witnessed acts of cruelty that I would prefer to forget versus regurgitating.  But everyday is a bad day for any sort of domestic animal who lives in rural China and I have witnessed the worst.  Although I might have been able to influence the educated young nationals who worked with me it was beyond my ability to influence the actions of rural farmers; all I could do was to divert my gaze and pray for an end to the suffering of the affected animal.  It is a cultural thing as there is little respect for human life so how can one expect the culture to respect animal pain and suffering, the mind set just is not there.

So today, stroke the head of your bird, cat, dog, horse or donkey and remind yourself how lucky they are to have you in their lives and how special a ingredient they are to your daily diet of goodness and how they enhance your spiritual well being.

We are all connected and we are all fellow passengers on this spaceship Earth.  A little courtesy to others goes a long, long way.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.

“You will never see, in my opinion, anything more brutal than the dog meat trade,”

Photo courtesy of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. Ching is aware that there are many who disagree with what he’s doing, but he believes his foundation can make a difference in the lives of thousands of dogs.

When a family in Korea discovered their beloved dog, Cheom Hwa, had been stolen, they were inconsolable. The German Shepherd had been with them since she was a puppy. “She is like my family,” the daughter says to Marc Ching, founder of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. “I am the only child so she was like my sister.”

It’s a nightmare no dog owner wants to have to go through. In Korea, where Cheom Hwa’s family lives, millions of dogs are stolen every year for their meat, and many are suspected to be stolen pets.

“The dog meat trade is big business,” Ching tells Earth Island Journal. “China exports meat to Korea. Cambodia exports to Vietnam.”

Ching, an American animal nutritionist who runs an organic pet food company in California, first heard about the Yulin dog meat festival that’s held every year in southern China only two years ago. The stories sounded so horrific that he had a hard time believing they were true. When he flew to China to see for himself what was going on, the atrocities turned out to be even worse. “What they’re doing is beyond inhumane,” Ching says. “It’s pure evil. They’ll boil dogs alive, hang and skin them alive.”

Today, Ching is most known for going undercover into slaughterhouses. By posing as a meat buyer, Ching often manages to get access to the kill floor where cages of whimpering animals are stacked on top of one another. The owner, hoping to make a sale, proudly talks up the facility, explaining their slaughtering process and how many dogs they go through on any given day. All the while, an iPhone in Ching’s pocket remains on video mode, surreptitiously recording everything.

If he’s caught, best-case scenario: He loses his phone. A previous trip to Vietnam ended with him beaten and nearly killed.

For Ching, the risk is worth it, even if too many of the dogs end up dying on the way to the veterinary hospital. Most are already close to death by the time he gets to them. In an interview with LA Weekly, he talks about coming across a dog with all four of her legs cut off. She died in his arms.

“You will never see, in my opinion, anything more brutal than the dog meat trade,” Ching says.

In the years since his first trip to China, he’s witnessed more than his share of unimaginable cruelty. The horror doesn’t deter him; it’s more like gasoline poured onto a smoldering flame urging him to save as many as he can. But while many activists are fueled into action by anger, Ching fervently believes that compassion is the key to lasting change.

“Even the people killing animals who, to me, aren’t good people,” Ching says, “I still try to be compassionate toward them. I think compassion wins in most cases and that’s what we do out in these countries. It’s all about compassion.”

Ching’s philosophy is evident with every trip back to Asia. He often works with locals, building his trip around the information they tell him. Before he steps onto a plane, he already knows who to talk to and where to go. For instance, in early 2017, locals in Korea helped to arrange a meeting with the owner of a slaughterhouse. This isn’t an undercover mission. The man knows that Ching wants to shut down his business.

Photo courtesy of Animals Asia. A dog meat market in Yulin, China. Several China-based animal welfare groups have asking international animal rights activists to stop buying dogs bound for the meat market saying that purchasing dogs only encourages the black market dog meat trade.

With the help of a local translator, Ching makes his appeal. “There’s a push against what you’re doing,” he tells him. “Whether it happens today, next year, or five years, you’ll be out of business soon. I’d like to work with you to stop what you’re doing and give you a chance at a decent living that doesn’t involve harming animals.”

The conversation is one Ching has had before with other slaughterhouse owners. His foundation’s economic development program is an attempt to build a viable model to affect far-reaching change. With enough successful cases, he hopes the Chinese government will someday take it over.

When asked about the people who slaughter dogs for a living, Ching recalls a man in Cambodia running a smaller operation that slaughters 50 to 100 dogs a day. “This guy sold his two daughters into prostitution. One of his daughters was four years old. I think he’s a terrible guy but he told me he didn’t choose to do this. He had to feed his family somehow and he became a dog slaughterer.”

It isn’t easy for Ching to sit across men who commit such horrific acts. Those who get into the business for money tend to be receptive, but there are always exceptions.

“In a slaughterhouse in Indonesia,” Ching says, “they hang dogs off these hooks and torture them. This guy is very popular for what he does because people come there believing the meat has healing powers. He’ll say, ‘I help people live better. I cure diseases like cancer.’ This guy will never close because he really believes in what he’s doing.”…(CONTINUED)

8 replies »

  1. No animal deserves this treatment!! No animal deserves to die like that. I just read an article about the stray dogs in Dubrovnik. The street dogs are hauled off to some other unknown area because there is a US actor and director by the name of Matt Damon aking a movie there. What’s that about!! China and the orient, the middle east are disgusting. They sure are not following the Genet’s of Budda. He philosophies delt with peace and harmony in the World. The Fung Shei would fly off the charts in these disgusting slaughter houses of all kinds. Before we can cure the World we have to deal with beings in our own country. Still no matter what part of the World it is it still goes back to making that almighty dollar! My animals including my horse are part of my family. If my horse was stolen or illegally purchased I wouldn’t waste any time going to the auction house packing!! These countries are so backward its pathetic! We can only help those of good will to keep up what they are doing. But they must remind their people that their religious leader who ever it might be does not promote torture and death. It is a human trait as is the need for greed of money. But we have issues in this country that we must stop. Horse and equine slaughter, the theft of our own animals which are sometimes sold for research. Farm animals discarded and treated inhumanely before their death so again someone makes a buck! The BLM are a notorious bunch perpratratkng inhumane treatment and death with our own tax dollars. And yet we here in the US ate having a hard time controlling this. Each week I get emails trying to come up with donations to save US horses and other equines. We all do what we can. But until people stop believing the old philosophies of healing and the need for greed, I fear this will continue. But WE MUST NEVER STOP fighting!!


  2. We can’t even stop the animal abuse here. How can we stop it anywhere else? I’ve come to believe that mankind was the scourge of the earth. Has done nothing but murder and destroy. Its the rare person that does right but I know that these people are out there and I’m sure it’s hurting them every bit much it hurts me. I don’t have a monopoly on the pain. We must first make this country a civilized place in order to serve as an example for those countries that are not as civilized.


    • Well, this is the thing. I’m all for this, believe me, but we’ve got terrible problems with animal cruelty, abuse and neglect right here in the country – bison and overbreeding of domestic pets in puppy mills, etc.. It’s too bad horses couldn’t be added to this bill. I am for it, but to me it is also a way that these dishonest politicians can appear to be doing something for animals without ruffling the feathers of the special interest groups who line their pockets. Democrats supporting wolf delisting and hunting in the Great Lakes for example.


  3. Thank you for your article on rural China and the animal abuse you witnessed. I have witnessed the starving dogs in rural Mexico wondering why no one helped them. I still have a mental image of a little dog so full of fleas, with mange and eyes almost shut from infection. I often wonder what happened to that sweet dog. I was with a tour group in rural Campeche hours from civilization and a few of us had food to give but that wouldn’t have lasted long enough.


  4. Oh, you could just cry. Thank God this person is trying to work with people to help these animal. It’s bad enough that these poor animals get eaten; but to inflict torture on them is just beyond belief. Ugh, I have a hard time reading these stories many times. And Americans have just as many shameful practices as anywhere – killing bison for no reason for one. Just awful.


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