In August 2015, social media illuminated the infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival, an annual celebration in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice, while festival goers eat dog meat. The festival lasts approximately 10 days and it is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are abused – adrenaline released in response to pain is believed to make their flesh more tender – killed and consumed.
After learning of this situation, I traveled to China to see if the things I read and the pictures I saw on the internet were real. I knew that dog meat trade was a longstanding practice in Asia, but I was unaware that abuse and torture are key components. I felt like I had to do something to make a difference. I left my family, business, and life here to help these dogs who live in the dark. I had no plan, knew no one and spoke no language.
I went to China to save as many dogs as possible. It wasn’t about changing the system. While I was there, people asked me what I had come for. I told them to save dogs. I told them to use those hands to change everything I could. You can’t tell a country that doesn’t have the same value system as we do that it loves dogs. The only way is to plant a seed.
I have made a total of four trips to Asia – China, South Korea and North Vietnam – to rescue dogs from slaughterhouses. I saved a total of 249 dogs on these trips. I go undercover as a buyer of dog meat and then work to expose the brutal practices that are anchored in this generational tradition of torturing and eating dogs. I take photos and secretly record videos, then post them on Instagram and Facebook and document my trip in real time.