Popcorn’s Story – Dogs in China Need Protecting

China’s Dogs - Rescue and Adoption

As I continue my Canine Psychology and Behaviour studies, I love nothing more than to hear other people’s dog stories. I often reach out to different communities asking for members to share their experiences with dog adoption. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Elaine and Eva generously shared their emotional journey with me. I now feel compelled to write their story and share it with my Four Long Legs readers. This is for two reasons:

I like to share successful dog rescue and adoption stories, especially when they involve dog diseases or particularly difficult personalities. In showing that even some of the biggest deterrents to dog rehoming can be overcome, I hope to support and help.

Popcorn’s plight was intensified by the country that she lived in – China. Whilst I do not believe that any country has a right to dictate to another which animal to farm and feed from, I do have an issue with cruelty. China’s dogs need better protection.

China’s Animal Cruelty

Note to reader: I found writing the following paragraphs extremely hard. I would like to warn all readers of the graphic and harrowing content that is coming up. It is unfortunately necessary to understand the extent of the cruelty in this country. China’s dogs need better protection.

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Just finished (June 21st -30th), the dog meat festival is held annually in the Guangxi province. Some 10,000 dogs were killed and eaten during the 10 day event.

Whilst these numbers shock, they are not the reason the festival attracts such international outcry. The worldwide disgust for this festival is due to the way in which the dogs are killed.

Dogs at this festival (and across China daily) are not killed and eaten humanly. They are subjected to torturous methods of slaughter in order to produce adrenalin in their systems.

The Chinese believe the adrenalin provides a better tasting meat. Dogs are hung by their paws and savagely skinned alive.

Their limbs are hacked off while still alive and very much conscious. Some are boiled alive. Many are beaten to death.

These heinous methods are carried out in front of other dogs. They are forced to watch the horror, frightened and scared they are destined for the same painful death. Which, of course, they are. 

If this isn’t bad enough, before their inhuman slaughter they are kept in crammed cages, in the suffocating heat of Asia. The have no life worth living, continuously imprisoned without regular exercise, food or water.

From the moment they are born, their life is full of misery and pain. Hour after hour, day after day until they are brutally killed.

Disgusting acts of cruelty are carried out at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival every year.
Inhumane methods of killing at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Animal Rights and Education in China

 The Yulin Festival certainly brings worldwide awareness to the monstrous conditions of dogs in China. Since it began in 2010, the global reach of the internet and its ability to project horrifying images to the world has highlighted the Chinese people’s barbarity.

The country’s intrinsic behaviour towards animals and the abhorrent treatment of them, is deep rooted. China, it seems, is culturally programmed to animal cruelty.

It will take long-term effort to change the hearts and minds of the Chinese people. We westerners grow up in a society where dog is man’s best friend.

Our instinct is to stop such scenes of animal cruelty. However, we must intervene carefully and in a way that will produce the most effective results.

Rescuing dogs from cages, especially when paying for them is a short-term fix. It ultimately increases demand by artificially boosting business.

A change in attitude is happening. It’s China’s young and educated at the forefront of these changes. 

Today, more and more Chinese families are pet owners. This could initially started as a status symbol – emphasising the owner has spare money for a pet. 

Now, many young Chinese people become pet owners for the love for an animal. Education, and exposure to international media is creating the change in attitude.

It is these channels that are resonating more so long term. Animal activists, celebrities and younger Chinese citizens are increasingly vocal on social media opposing dog eating festivals and the slaughter practice in general.

China’s dogs are starting to hold a place in the hearts on the people. This article in National Geographic is a great example of how China is changing.

How To Help

Many fabulous organisations work towards the protection of animals in China. Providing education and support to locals in orders to change the mentality and strive to stamp out cruelty.

If you want to help China’s dogs you can do so in many ways with these charities. Although I cannot list all of them, below are some special mentions:

The Vanderpump Dog Foundation 

Based in Los Angeles, the Foundation began with the campaign Stop Yulin Forever (#StopYulinForever) after witnessing the barbaric torture practices at the festival. In 2016, The Vanderpump Dog Foundation helped initiate Resolution 752, that condemns the annual Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China.

The bill urges the government of China and the Yulin authorities to ban the torture, killing and eating of dogs as part of Yulin’s Festival and to enforce China’s food safety laws. The bill affirms the United States’ commitment to protect animals.

This is a great step towards reducing the horrendous treatment of China’s dogs.

Humane Society International

The HSI is working towards bringing to an end to the dog meat trade. Across Asia, the way in which a dog is horrifically tortured to death is fundamental to the consumption of it.

The only way to eradicate the suffering of dogs is to end the trade entirely.

Animal Asia

Animal Asia not only campaigns to end the dog meat trade, they are heavily involved in the campaign against barbaric Bear Bile Farms. Bears are subjected to horrific conditions, in cages all day and regularly cut open to extract bile for their stomachs. 

This cruel practice continues despite the availability of a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives.

Popcorn’s Story

I have the great pleasure of telling Popcorn’s story. It is down to one determined, and somewhat crafty, 12-year-old girl who snuck a cute white stray into her family home while her mother was out.

Popcorn was only a pup when she was rescued from the Yangzhou streets of China in 2014. Without Eva Goodman’s intervention, this Pungsan cross-breed (I think) was most likely destined for a life of pain and misery – like so many of the dogs in China.

On finding the ball of fluff, Elaine Goodman’s reaction was typical of any mother presented with the same situation by an animal loving child. “To say I was not happy is an understatement as we travel a lot” Elaine tells me.

Eva discovered that Popcorn had been beaten repeatedly with high heels. A treatment not uncommon (or even frowned upon) in some Chinese communities.

The Goodman’s never intended to adopt a dog. However, living in a country where there are very few shelters and a culture of cruelty towards dogs; Elaine knew she could not turn Popcorn back out onto the streets.

Canine Distemper

One of the reason’s I am keen to highlight this story is because it involves a disease called Canine Distemper. Canine Distemper is a contagious and fatal viral illness with no known cure. It kills more dogs than any other infectious disease, and it ruins the health of many others.

Canine Distemper was a major killer of all dogs in the past. Now it is really only common amongst strays, rescue shelters and still widely seen in the wild.

This is because vaccines administered to pet dogs within the first 6-8 weeks of puppyhood prevent Canine Distemper from developing. It is extremely important to vaccinate dogs and top up with boosters throughout their lives.

And especially important if you travel with a dog. When Eva took Popcorn to the vet, she was diagnosed with Canine Distemper.

To Eva’s horror the vet was extremely negative towards any recovery from the disease, advising Popcorn likely to die. Even going as far to say that it was a waste of time to continue with a course of treatment.


The Power of Love

On hearing this, I was shocked that a veterinary professional would have such a defeatist attitude. Of course, vets are to provide owners with the most likely outcome, no matter how devastating.

In this case, Eva and Elaine felt that the vet was not even willing to help with Popcorn’s survival. However, this was not going to deter Eva. Popcorn was no lost cause.

With dogged determination, sleepless nights and unwavering positivity, Eva nursed Popcorn back to health. Some dogs recover on their own from Canine Distemper, although this number is very low.

Popcorn was a young pup which probably helped. The fantastic news is that Canine Distemper is similar to the measles or pox.

When a dog recovers, they’ll be naturally immune to a second attack, and no longer contagious. Thankfully, Popcorn is in this minority and bounced back to health – making full recovery.

Happily, Ever After

Popcorn is now one of the family. With two children that adore her and a home that is safe and caring.

Maybe this was all she needed to recover from a fatal disease such as Canine Distemper. It is truly amazing what is achieved with the love and support of a family.

Now 16, Eva has been effected by the treatment of animals in China so much that she is one year into studying Law and Chinese. She hopes to become an animal rights lawyer in the future.

She understands that it is laws and education that will change this nation. I have been inspired by her actions and strength of character for someone so young.

I have no doubt that she will be a powerful woman who will go on to make a difference to the animals of China. With a move to Thailand on the horizon it is onwards and upwards for this loving and affectionate dog.

“I don’t think I could be without her. She isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but such a beautiful dog :-)” says Elaine.

Elaine and her family took on a stray dog who was beaten, scared and sick. They never gave up on her and now they would never be without her.

Dogs have so much love and loyalty in them to give when given the chance. That is exactly what Popcorn got – a chance of a new life and she grabbed it with both paws

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