Marc Ching is currently on his seventh mission to Asia to rescue dogs from the extreme torture they suffer in slaughterhouses. And this trip could end up being his most significant yet.
Ching, who lives in Sherman Oaks and was the subject of an L.A. Weekly cover story last month, says he was able to shut down his first slaughterhouse, in Cambodia, on this trip (and he went on to temporarily shut down six more, in China). He says the Cambodia slaughterhouse killed 20 to 60 dogs a day.
On his previous missions — all within the past year — Ching went undercover as a “meat buyer” and clandestinely rescued the severely abused dogs, hundreds of whom he’s brought back to the United States to rehabilitate. But this time he made a deal with the Cambodian slaughterhouse owner instead: In exchange for shutting down the facility and giving Ching the dogs, the owner would be able to make a new start. Ching and his volunteers are helping him secure a location for a vegetarian noodle restaurant. They also will design its menu and pay for the first six months of rent and utilities.
Ching literally dismantled the slaughterhouse, pulling up floorboards and ripping down walls, using the same hammers and machetes that were used to torture the dogs. When all that was left of the slaughterhouse was a roof and supporting beams, Ching and the group of neighboring villagers physically pulled the structure to the ground.
"There must have been 50 to 80 people watching,” Ching says.
An even bigger challenge for Ching begins today at China’s annual Yulin Festival, where an estimated 10,000 dogs will be slaughtered to feed festivalgoers. Ching recruited 20 to 30 activists to join him in Yulin; the group includes former military officers, veterinarians and activists from America, the U.K., Indonesia, Beijing and Hong Kong.
He also got nearly as many celebrities — including Matt Damon, Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara and Pamela Anderson — to join his cause.
“I want the people in China to be able to see, change is possible,” Ching says. “People are meeting from all over the world, and even within China, to come help us.”
A dramatic video, released online Friday in anticipation of the dog meat festival, combines footage of the dog abuse that Ching shot during his trips abroad with pleas from the celebrities to “stop the burning,” “stop the beatings,” “stop boiling them alive” and “stop the torture.”
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In addition to rescuing dogs from slaughter and treating them in a temporary triage shelter, Ching plans to make a loud political statement at the festival. He has extended audio recordings of dogs being tortured and plans to blast the bone-chilling soundtrack through hidden Bluetooth speakers throughout the city. At night, he plans to project videos of the torture as well.
So far on this trip, Ching says he’s been beaten up once, was detained for questioning at the airport and has saved more than 1,000 dogs who now need homes. Ching’s nonprofit, the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, can only take in 100 to 200 dogs, so he’s soliciting donations and help from local rescue groups to bear the load.
He also says he rescued his youngest dog yet. The premature puppy was cut from its mother’s womb after she was burned alive. The puppy, which Ching has named Baby Blu, is being kept in an incubator.
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Marc Ching was able to shut down five slaughterhouses in China. Instead, he was able to temporarily suspend operations at six Chinese slaughterhouses.