New homes in NI for dogs rescued from China
Six dogs who were rescued from horrific conditions in China will be meeting their new families in Carrickfergus at the end of this month.
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The dogs have been brought to the UK by rescue charity, Doggy 911, established last year by Belfast woman Gabrielle Gardiner.
Doggy 911 works with China-based organisation Harbin SHS, which aims to rescue animals from the country's dog meat trade and slaughterhouses.
It is estimated that millions of dogs are killed for their meat in China every year.
Many of the dogs Harbin SHS encounters have suffered horrific abuse, with some affected by serious health conditions such as parvovirus and canine distemper.
Gabrielle first heard of their work through Candy Cane Rescue, whose focus is on stopping the export of greyhounds to China.
"I set up Doggy 911 after I realised there is no dedicated charity in the UK to rescue all breeds," she added.
"The conditions that Harbin SHS have found the dogs in are horrendous; many of them are poorly and some unfortunately have to be put down.
"Some are even family pets that have been stolen.
"It's a completely different culture [in China]; in some places, there's a belief that the more pain is inflicted on the dog before it dies, the better the meat will be."
Of more than 90 dogs saved and cared for by the Harbin team, six are bound for new homes in Northern Ireland thanks to Doggy 911.
Kasey, DouDou, Freddie, and Ripley were rescued in June 2017 from a truck on which up to 1200 dogs were crammed into cages.
"The truck was heading for Yulin meat festival, where hundreds of dogs are slaughtered," Gabrielle said.
"Poor DouDou was heavily pregnant when she was rescued and her [veterinary] treatment had to be delayed. An emergency C-section was carried out but unfortunately her puppies couldn't be saved."
Poodles James and Jake, who were found last October, suffer from disabilities thought to be the result of inbreeding.
"They were rescued from a local meat market after being sold by a medical university, where they were most likely used for medical testing," explained Gabrielle.
"Jake suffered from tremors and had a seizure only last week; he went into cardiac arrest, but they were able to bring him round."
And while Doggy 911 hopes to save even more dogs this summer, the charity is reliant on donations for the animals' medical treatment, transport, and rehoming.
"We are limited by our funding; it costs £400 for a Chinese passport and £200 for flights, for example," said Gabrielle, who has two dogs, Sam and Charlie.
"Six dogs might only seem like a drop in the ocean, but the more we rescue and rehome, the more lives can be saved."
The new arrivals will meet their adopted and foster families at Carrick's Redwood Doggy Playpark on January 29, where they will be checked over by a local vet.
For more information on Doggy 911, visit the charity's Facebook page.