Hawaii man on life-threatening mission to expose Asian dog meat trade

Mr Marc Ching at a slaughterhouse in Vietnam.
Mr Marc Ching at a slaughterhouse in Vietnam.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/THE ANIMAL HOPE & WELLNESS FOUNDATION

Looking like a Hollywood action star, Mr Marc Ching is on a real-life mission to rescue dogs from the pet meat trade in Asia - at risk to his own life.

The founder of the California-based Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation has made six solo trips to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea since September last year.

Hiring a driver and a translator to help with logistics, the 37-year-old Hawaii native goes undercover as a wealthy American dog meat buyer, visiting slaughterhouses and documenting the animals' torture.

He then tries to leave with as many dogs as he can.

Mr Ching has rescued 349 dogs overseas in eight months, he told the Los Angeles Weekly, but less than a third of them have made it back to his foundation in Sherman Oaks, California.

The majority of them, he said, died in his arms en route to medical help. He once rescued a dog that had all four legs cut off, as letting the dogs bleed to death is one way they are killed.

Mr Ching has collated more than 300 videos and 5,000 photos from his travels and posted them on the foundation's website and Facebook page.

"I have videos of hangings, burning (dogs) alive, boiling alive, cutting their feet off while they're still alive," he said.

According to the foundation's website, Mr Ching started the non-profit outfit in 2011 after he realised "he could use his abilities to rehabilitate abused and neglected dogs in need and place them into homes".

The father of two had been inspired to rescue canines outside the United States in May last year after learning of the summer solstice lychee and dog meat festival in Yulin, China.

Shocked by the existence of such inhumane practice in the modern world, Mr Ching flew to China for a first-hand view and to try to rescue as many dogs as possible.

He told dogster.com: "When I went to China, I saw things I didn't know people could do. I knew they ate dogs there, but I didn't know about the torture and abuse aspect associated with the preparation of the meat. It doesn't make sense to me - it's unspeakable."

The Humane Society estimates that 30 million dogs are killed across Asia every year as part of the industry, with an estimated 10 million killed in China alone.

Mr Ching, a holistic pet nutritionist and Japanese herbalist by profession, claims he has been robbed, shot at and held at machete blade as he tried to expose the perpetrators.

He said he was beaten severely when a South Korean butcher caught him wearing a GoPro.

Since his first impromptu trip to China, Mr Ching has beefed up his rescue process, which includes securing translators and veterinarians in advance, working with teams of researchers to locate slaughterhouses, and finding ways to obtain undercover video footage - without getting caught.

For his own safety, he never visits the same slaughterhouse twice.

Mr Ching's latest strategy to tackle the issue is a media campaign in China and South Korea, featuring graphic video footage he and two undercover slaughterhouse workers have compiled over recent months.

Dubbed The Compassion Project, its intention is to shed light on the abusive practices linked to the trade, turn people away from eating dog meat, and promote change.