Marc Ching is a broken man. He’s seen, heard, smelled and witnessed things no sentient being ever should. He’s seen live dogs skinned, boiled, hanged and have their legs cut off. He’s smelled the sickening odor of warm blood pouring from the suffering and heard the horrific cries that come from unimaginable pain. Worst, he’s witnessed the pure evil of truly sadistic humans and it has crushed his gentle soul. As he speaks of his travels to Asia documenting the horror of the dog meat trade he trembles, his voice cracks and stops and his eyes tear up. As I sat beside him listening I felt my heart break and an ocean of tears building up behind my closed eyes.
It all began 5 years ago when Marc, who was running his pet food shop, rescued a severely abused dog and wowed to heal him and find him a loving home. He continued to rescue abused dogs thru his ‘Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation’ and only last year learned of the nightmarish dog meat trade rampant in Asia and it’s most famous and gruesome poster-child: Yulin (China’s annual ‘dog meat festival’ where an estimated 10,000 dogs (many pets!) are brought in, tortured and slaughtered for food). He’s since made 7 trips to these countries and the most recent to Cambodia and finally Yulin. On his first trips he was able to rescue and bring back around 70 dogs but once in Yulin for the festival he decided to do something different. Frustrated that petitions with 11 million signatures (Europe, Australia and USA) and 8 million (China) failed to convince Chinese authorities to shut down this horror he pledged to shut down 12 slaughterhouses for the duration of the festival.
It wasn’t long after he set foot in this hellhole of a town that he was detained, beaten, threatened and then constantly followed by the police. Once he lost them by hopping in and out of taxis he was able to negotiate the closing of 6 slaughter houses. HE DID NOT BUY THE DOGS as some have reported and criticized him for. The world followed his dramatic daily videos online (some receiving over 400k views) with excitement, horror and admiration as he announced that he now had 1000 dogs that needed help. Some argued he should leave the dogs to their fate but they don’t know Marc, “When you’re in the field everything changes. You think with your heart. I’d never leave those dogs – it’s not in my nature and if people think that’s wrong that’s on them. I would have regretted it – I’d have so much guilt”. Fortunately the ‘Tree of Life’ organization and a horde of compassionate Chinese locals helped ferry the dogs to safe heavens outside the city. Marc now has 5 shelters running there and plans to get his 500 dogs adopted out to Europe, Australia and the US. He hopes that 15 will come to his shelter in LA.
Marc does not want to be the hero the world has labeled him as, “I’m just a normal guy, I’m weak, I make mistakes. All I do is for the animals. It’s not about money or fame for me, it’s about reclaiming my salvation, stop cruelty and give hope”. He lives only for the moment when the terrified dogs stop crying and somehow know they are being rescued. “They look at you and they’ve waited their whole life for this moment. Imagine if you’ve been locked in a dark cave and watched everyone around you die a horrible death you’d dream of the day this moment would come. In that moment I’m that person”.
Marc does believe things are changing in Asia and that a 3 pronged approach with the aid of the governments will end the torture (but maybe not the dog eating) in both China and Korea. The 3 main issues he focuses on are, 1) Teaching that abuse and torture is wrong, 2) Stealing pets is illegal and 3) Rabies is a real health concern for humans consuming dog meat. Marc is headed to Indonesia in a few weeks to meet with government officials to present his horrific documentary videos and plead for them to take action to stop it. He asks that we not close our eyes to this, “When you do you make it ok for it to continue. If I can live thru this and the dogs can suffer thru this you can look at it and acknowledge it’s going on. Stand up against it and it will become illegal”.
Marc will not return to Yulin. He’s seen enough. When he closes his eyes at night all he sees is blood. He needs time to repair his broken soul and thankfully he’s headed to a PTSD rehab facility shortly where they can help him do just that.
“Human beings can do so much. If everyone just did a little, hugged someone who was crying, gave a little the world would change. All it takes is a little”. I couldn’t have said it better myself but I will have to disagree with Marc on one point – you ARE a hero my friend.
Written by Ines Romero of Cecil’s Angels: cecilsangels.com
To help Marc: animalhopeandwellness.org
To help Soi Dog (Thailand): soidog.org
To help Nami Kim (South Korea): koreandogs.org and namikim.org