As my time in China is almost over, my dissertation is done and the HSK exam taken. This leaves time for enjoying the rest of my time with friends, visiting places… and saving dogs from China’s meat trade.
Three weeks ago, the two stray dogs that had been living below our student accommodation set up camp underneath the stairs. One of them gave birth to six puppies, and students flocked to coo and photograph them. No one claimed them, and no one really seemed to know what the dogs needed. Pots of fruit or rice were occasionally left for them, and a few bowls for water and blankets were placed down.
I started to take a personal interest in them, and told my family – who are all major animal lovers – about them, sending them regular updates and videos. Whilst initially being absentminded about them, my heart took over, and I soon felt I should do more to help, ordering proper dog food online and taking charge of topping up water and checking on them regularly. But I could not be there all of the time, often coming back late from various activities, meaning they would be without any care for a long time. I also knew that time was ticking, and I was anxious about their future when I went home in a matter of weeks. My mum put me in touch with a charity from England who agreed to help after being shown the videos. Thus ensued a race against time, in which I had to find a contact in Xiamen who would be willing to take all eight dogs and keep them safe until they were able to fly to the UK. All the while, danger was lurking just around the corner.
The same day we arranged for them to be picked up, there was talk of what the teachers had threatened for the next morning. Claiming to not have enough food or facilities for strays, the university’s intention was to throw them out and ‘dispose’ of them. In previous years, with other litters, students told me the puppies had been taken and killed – on the university’s orders. Luckily, we got these ones out in time, and I am confident that they are going to be safe now.
I had not anticipated a situation such as this – quite literally – falling onto my doorstep. I have become so much more alert to China’s lack of animal rights and its meat trade. It is so much more common and widespread than simply being confined to one region or one festival in Yulin. I am grateful to Rushton Dog Rescue Centre for their incredible heroism, and I am relieved that eight innocent lives will be saved and hopefully loved as much as they deserve to be. But I know that there is still so much more to be done…