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Successful Businessman Risks His Life to Save Thousands of Dogs from Asia’s Dog Meat Trade

Up until a couple of years ago, Mark Ching was a successful businessman who dedicated his free time and resources to rehabilitating abused dogs in Los Angeles and finding new homes for them. But then he heard about the horrors of the dog meat trade in China, and after witnessing them first hand he dedicated his life to rescuing as many canines as he could from dog slaughterhouses across Asia, even if it meant putting his own life at risk.

Mark’s life changed in 2015, when he heard about an annual event in China called the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. He knew that the Chinese and other Asians ate dog meat, and he accepted that as a cultural thing, but what he couldn’t understand was the unspeakable torture that the animals were apparently subjected to before being killed, to supposedly make their meat tastier. It didn’t make any sense to him, so he bought a plane ticket to China, put on a backpack and flew to Yulin to learn more. The gruesome scenes he saw on that first trip to China were more horrific than he could have ever imagined, and while they left him traumatized for life, they also transformed him into a brave activist willing to risk his life to rescue as many animals as possible.

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

“My first trip was after the Yulin festival, on Sept. 1. 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,” Mark told Dogster.

He started making regular trips to China, South Korea and Vietnam, visiting dog meat markets and slaughterhouses and saving as many helpless animals as he could. He managed to rescue 249 canines on his first four trips, but, unfortunately, only 61 of them survived. That’s when he realized that he had to plan out his trips much better, getting in touch with local translators and veterinarians that could treat the dogs after he got them out of the slaughterhouses.

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

“When I come into a country, I prep my translator for about two hours before we go out, so when he goes to a slaughterhouse with me he knows what to say. He’ll tell the butchers, ‘This is my client, he’s a rich American, and he wants to buy [large quantities of] dogs … because he’s going to kill them himself, prepare the meat, and export it to America,'” Ching says.

“Before we go out, we call local veterinarians and ask them how many dogs they can take, treat, and keep for a few months, because the number of vets we find determines the number of dogs we save. So our process now is to take the dogs, load them up in vans, and get them straight to the vets.”

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

But while posing as a rich American businessman is usually a good cover, it doesn’t always work, and Mark has been physically abused several times by dog meat traders who figured out he was lying. He was badly beaten when a South Korean butcher noticed that he was wearing a GoPro camera, he has been held hostage, had machete put to his throat and a gun held pointed at his head, but none of these life-threatening situations have deterred him from continuing to venture into danger to carry out his rescue operations.

“When you save a dog and that dog looks at you, it’s like that moment when you’re in love with someone … it’s amazing. I don’t think people realize that there’s beauty in what I do,” Mark Ching says.

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

Flying to Asia and working with the locals to save dozens, sometimes hundreds of dogs is an expensive affair, and Ching spends hundreds of dollars of his money every year to make it happen. He runs The PetStaurant, a wellness and nutrition-centered pet store that allows him to fund his rescue operations without having to rely too heavily on donations, although he appreciates every cent he gets from fellow animal lovers.

“My business is very successful, but where most people would buy a Rolex watch, I save dogs,” Mark says. “I never want someone to look at what I do and pollute it by saying I do it for [donation] money, because that’s not possible — I lose a few hundred thousand dollars a year on these rescues because they’re so expensive. But in the end it’s worth it because this means so much to me.”

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

Through his foundation, Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, Mark Ching has so far rescued over 1,000 dogs from the Asian dog meat trade. Most of them are treated and put up for adoption locally, because flying them with him back to the U.S. is a difficult an expensive affair. “Unfortunately, I can’t take them all,” he told The Dodo. “Financially, it’s exhausting, so I take the dogs who need me the most, dogs who’ve had their feet or their legs cut off.”

Some of the dogs he saves from butchers are in such a bad state that they don’t even make it to the veterinarian. He always drives his rescue van to the countryside to give them a decent burial. “At least they knew in their last moments that someone cared for them,” Mark says.

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

After seeing dogs subjected to unspeakable means of torture, like being mutilated, boiled or burned alive, and electrocuted all for the belief that their meat tastes better when they suffer, Mark Ching says that he has been traumatized for life. He lives with terrible visions that keep him up at night, but he’s also more determined than ever to put an end to these abominable practices.

Risking your life to save thousands of helpless animals is commendable, but mark knows that it makes little difference in the grand scheme of things. The Humane Society reports that 30 million dogs are slaughtered every year across Asia, with an estimated 10 million in China alone. That’s why the brave activist now plans to focus more on raising awareness about the horrors of the dog meat trade in Asia, and turn people away from eating dog meat.

Photo: Mark Ching/Facebook

“In China and South Korea, they care more about image, so my goal is to put this media campaign together, line up celebrities, and schedule important meetings with people in the government,” Mark said. “My message will be, ‘You can be hated by all these countries because of this inhumanity or you can rise up and decide that your country is better than that.’ In our culture, we used to have slavery and lynching, but one day we realized that was no longer acceptable, and we changed. I believe their countries are no different, and that they’ll change in time, too.”

To learn more about Mark Ching’s efforts to end the barbaric practices of the dog meat visit his foundation’s Facebook page.

 

The above interview with Mark is both inspiring and heart-wrenching. You’ll cry and you’ll be a wreck after you watch it, but you need to see it to understand what animals are being subjected to and how passionate this man is about stopping the cruel dog meat trade.