A life lived to alleviate the most horrific suffering.
I have a dog so this was really hard to watch. But I can't help but carry a lot of respect for Marc Ching and other animal welfare warriors. Many of us lead our lives really just for ourselves, for the dreams we have and the things we want. But Marc, who has a family, puts his own life at risk for these abused dogs. And you can see from the interview how much he is tortured by what he had seen. It's really something to see someone who lives a life with such a sacrificial mindset to help those in need in every way he can. Please also support the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.
Marc Ching has seen and felt a level of despair, cruelty, and helplessness, that most of us will never experience. You can see the raw emotions that he displays in the video.
In September 2015, Marc made his first trip to China after hearing about the Yulin Dog Festival. He wanted to find out if the festival was indeed true - where dogs are heavily tortured before consumption, based on the belief that torture releases adrenaline, which makes dog meat taste better. At first, having arrived in the metropolis Beijing, he found no sale of dog meat, and thought it might be a thing of the past. But he soon realised a large number of slaughterhosues and puppy mills, where the most brutal torture takes place. To emphasise, it is not the consumption of dog meat that Marc objects to, but the extent of torture that happens before consumption.
What constitutes torture? Don't read this bit if you have a weak stomach. Paws cut off, boiling, crucifixion, skulls bashed in, intestines ripped out - all while keeping the dog alive.
To Marc, the horror is not just Yulin. Yulin is just the most prominent example, but dog torture has and is still taking place in many countries. Initially, Marc focussed on single rescue, buying individual dogs and sending them to vets for urgent treatment; dogs that survive are shipped back to the US, where Marc works through is Animal Hope and Wellness organisation to find new homes for them. He soon realised that given the sheer extent of torture, he needed a broader strategy. He uses the films and photos taken of dog torture to put pressure on governments, to make legal reforms on animal rights. He has tried paying slaughterhouses to stop torture, and is partnering local groups to take care and rehabilitate rescued dogs (to varied success).
Marc's view of what he has done is truly eye-opening:
"At the beginning, it was about single rescue. I felt like I do what I do for myself. I believe in these lives are being tortured or abused and so if I can save a dog who would die without me and bring it to a place where they couldn't even dream. It's so beautiful and passionate and the true meaning of love and that's what I started doing out there.
When we leave, the dogs I rescue we take them to the vets after and most of them have injuries they'll die from and a lot of them don't even make transit. But the survivors, there's kind of like this ritual where I talked to them and it sounds weird but it's so personal for me. I connect with these dogs when I rescue them and I tell them, 'if you live and you make it, there's this dream that is awaiting'.
It felt like I was a hero, it was such a great thing in life. It set up my second trip when I went into different slaughterhouses in China and Korea, and that's when my life just totally collapsed. It wasn't happy anymore and it wasn't courageous and it wasn't heroic. I get to see things that you wouldn't see because you can't because it's hidden. There's a place I go to where they crucify dogs, they nail the paws of dogs into the walls, and everything I've seen that is the most I would say it's the most atrocious.
"You cannot un-see the torture you cannot un-see the abuse. I think we grew up in life believing that these things don't exist. Going into slaughterhouses, I believe a normal person is not meant to watch things like that. I never knew that human beings could be that cruel. To actually see the atrocities, it changes you. When I came back from the second trip, it destroyed my whole life. My life is still destroyed. My trips have changed radically since then I started just rescuing single lives where now I have a whole movement to end the trade based on torture and abuse that I document. People don't understand what's happening or the degree of violence and cruelty. There was previously no physical evidence of this torture being done. And what is so monumental about our movement is that I have the videos of the torture - the hanging and boiling of dogs. It's changing the landscape - you can no longer deny it happens because I have the proof, that the dog meat trade. I'm looking for them to enact a cruelty law to protect animals or to ban the trade completely.
I always write about this that I believe that compassion can be taught. I have to because if not, what I do is meaningless. In the world there's torture and horror and death and destruction but there's humanity and there's love and there's compassion. I think more than anything that's what we need - people to share the movement because if you remain blind or if you choose to close your eyes, nothing changes. One day, I think I going to die there because it's just getting worse - on every trip I'm getting assaulted more and there's more of these instances where I'm almost dying. And so I'm okay with dying. I am. I'm not okay with what I do being wasted. When I go into a slaughterhouse, there's this one moment when I'm drenched because it's so intense. And I'll cut them down from a noose or pick them up to rescue them and there's this moment where time just stops and it's so primal.... it's like they understand who I am; like the dog is telling me., 'you came, you're here and you're gonna take me away', it's everything that I do and it's passion and it's beauty and it's immediate. If you appeal to the people, you can change single minds, but it can only stop if it is a law.
People think like a change has to be done on this big level. I'm nobody, I'm not famous I'm not anybody but I leave my family and I do something because I just have to. If we all just did something, the world would be so different and I think that's what our foundation signifies. In the end, I believe there's hope. As long as we breathe there's life left, we have a chance.