By Sherry Chen

We’re all aware that cultural practices and norms can differ widely and that no culture has (or should have) the right to dictate to another, but we also feel it’s appropriate to call for the humane treatment of animals, and, specifically, for an end to the dog-meat trade worldwide. The annual Yulin dog meat festival takes place in June and is estimated to be responsible for the torturing and killing of tens of thousands of helpless dogs for meat consumption. But here’s the silver lining: thanks to the unwavering dedication of some incredible volunteers, hundreds of these pups are being rescued each and every year. Learn more and find out how you can help.

Who is No Dogs Left Behind?

No Dogs Left Behind (NDLB) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with Chinese activists and volunteers to rescue dogs from death in certain parts of China and rehabilitates them for eventual adoption. NDLB is gearing up for more transports of slaughterhouse dogs from China to New York City. Most of these survivors are adopted or fostered by families in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Rescuing Animals from the Meat Trade

The rescue group most recently saved nearly 50 dogs who had all been saved from the controversial dog-meat industry in certain Chinese cities, where dogs are held in barbaric conditions and killed for consumption. While this practice is illegal in China, there is currently no legislation in place to protect dogs. “There are no animal welfare laws in China,” says Jeffrey Beri, founder of No Dogs Left Behind. “Sustainability is a major factor in the future of our planet; the reckless slaughtering of animals must come to an end.”

Volunteers and local Chinese activists at the two NDLB sanctuaries in China work to vaccinate, treat and rehabilitate these dogs, most of whom have never experienced human kindness. “They’re just so badly beaten, tortured, slammed into chicken cages,” says Beri. He believes educating children on why dogs are our friends is the key to change. He often speaks at schools in Yulin, China, to teach young students that dogs are our companions. “Many of them have never touched a dog,” he says.

In China, alongside local volunteers and brave activists, No Dogs Left Behind intercepts trucks bound for this festival as well as for slaughterhouses. The dogs are never bought, says Beri, because “purchasing a dog kills 10 more.” Instead, NDLB allied forces demand that truckers provide proper legal documentation for each dog, including health and quarantine certificates, which they cannot do. Because the fines would exceed the cost of the dog, the traffickers eventually hand the animals over to activists.

Saving Dogs in Korea

Now we’re hearing from South Korea, where eating dog is also a strong, albeit often low-profile, practice. The Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) organization estimates that more than two million dogs are killed each year for meat in South Korea. Before being slaughtered, they endure “horrible conditions — crammed in unsanitary cages, fed with human waste food.” In the end, many are often electrocuted, hanged, burned, or beaten to death because they believe that the animals’ suffering produces better-tasting meat and enhances virility in those who consume it.

The dog meat trade is brisk in South Korea, where dog meat traders raise and slaughter tens of millions of dogs. In China, people gather street dogs to kill them for meat. Many dogs die from dehydration, suffocation, or heatstroke during transport and watch as men kill their cage mates before their eyes.

With all this attention on South Korea, it’s important to recognize the situation in the North, where international public opinion holds no sway, may be even more dire. According to an Agence France-Presse story in July, North Korea has been actively promoting the virtues of dog meat, including hosting dog meat food contests in Pyongyang. According to the story, hot dog meat soup is touted for its power to prevent diseases from malnutrition and bolster stamina — making it a favorite summer specialty in North and South Korea.

Here’s How You Can Help

“This is about the future of the planet and our kids; that’s who No Dogs Left Behind is,” says Beri. “Activists, volunteers, and allied forces are always leading the way. We don’t believe in bringing armies; we believe in growing them. That’s a sustainable solution.” No Dogs Left Behind operates based on the generous donations and work of volunteers. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today, check out the many dogs available for adoption, or inquire about fostering a dog.

Upcoming plans for No Dogs Left Behind include:

  • Opening a U.S. sanctuary.
  • Purchasing a charter plane to be able to evacuate 500 dogs.
  • Helping China lead the way for change by enacting animal welfare laws.

But even though this New York native has helped hundreds of dogs, he can’t help but think of the ones he couldn’t rescue. “The dogs I can’t save are the dogs that haunt me.”

Photo: Courtesy No Dogs Left Behind