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More than 400 dogs destined to be slaughtered for China’s meat trade have been rescued by a Lincolnshire charity in the past two years.
Kerry Elliman, from Binbrook, near Market Rasen, runs Candy’s Hound Rescue, which works with shelters in China to rehome dogs in the UK.
She said many had been beaten, starved or crammed into tiny cages.
“I’m not trying to stop the dog meat because I know that won’t happen,” she said. “It’s about education”.
Mrs Elliman added: “It’s raising awareness of things people have no idea about.”
Charity Humane Society International/UK said most people in China and across Asia did not eat dog meat and opposition to the trade was increasing due to the animal cruelty involved and the human health risks, such as the spread of diseases like rabies.
They partner with a Chinese group called Vshine, which campaigns across Asia for an end to the dog and cat meat trades.
In June this year, Vshine rescued 19 dogs from an illegal slaughterhouse in the outskirts of Yulin, a week before the city’s annual dog meat festival at which thousands of dogs and cats are killed and eaten.
One of the dogs rescued by Candy’s Hound Rescue is called Tang Tang, who was rescued from a slaughterhouse.
She had suffered repeated blows to the head and has untreated diabetes, which means she will soon need to have an eye removed.
“She was originally rescued from the dog meat trade, she was in a slaughterhouse,” Mrs Elliman said.
“She’s got all the scars on her back end. What they do to weigh them – especially the sight hounds – is they tie metal wire around their legs and weigh them.”
She said a lot of dogs destined for the illicit meat trade were “skinned alive or boiled alive” in the belief the meat would taste better.
“I understand bringing them to this country is not going to save them [all], but it is saving the ones that we are saving,” she said.
Wendy Higgins, from Humane Society International/UK, said there was “a growing and dedicated animal protection movement within China”.
“[Our] Chinese partner group work tirelessly all year round to save thousands of dogs and cats from the meat trade, working with law enforcement to intercept trafficked animals who are crammed on trucks and helping to shut down illegal slaughterhouses, providing the rescued animals with lifesaving treatment and rehabilitation,” she said.
“We recently supported their launch of a tip line in China for members of the public to report illegal dog and cat meat trade activity, which has proved successful in shutting down restaurants and slaughterhouses operating in various locations across the country.”