On Saturday, June 19, dog owners and activists gathered on Havens Beach in Sag Harbor to raise awareness of and protest against dog cruelty and the illegal dog meat trade in Asia.
The event, a 1-mile march around the Havens Beach area was organized by No Dogs Left Behind, an animal rights organization that operates on the ground in Asia and rescues dogs directly from slaughterhouses, dog meat trucks and wet markets.
Around 100 people registered for the “walk-a-thon” on Saturday, including owners of dogs who had been rescued by the organization.
“This event here is mainly to raise awareness about the dog meat trade, what happens to these animals, and about our organization and how we rescue, rehabilitate and adopt to find them homes in the United States and in the U.K.,” said Jacqueline Finnegan, vice president of No Dogs Left Behind.
Several dogs that were rescued by the organization and are currently up for adoption attended the walk, while non-rescue dogs also showed up to show support for their furry friends.
“The irony is, you wouldn’t be able to tell our dogs from dogs from pet stores because they’re not damaged or anything, they’re just beautiful loving dogs that we’re trying to save from this horrendous place,” Ms. Finnegan said.
The walk began with an opening ceremony, in which Tony Pagano explained the mission of the organization and the work they do in China.
“These dogs are predominantly domesticated dogs that have been stolen, sold into slaughter and torture, and are being consumed at a festival that begins in about three days. Our founder Jeff Berry is currently there right now trying to save as many dogs as he can,” said Mr. Pagano, who also introduced Buda, a rescue dog that was saved from a dog meat truck that was carrying about 1,300 dogs, four years ago.
The money from registration tickets, raffle tickets, merchandise, and donations will go toward transportation funds.
“Our biggest hurdle is actually raising funds for transport. It costs an absolute fortune to move these dogs out of China,” Mr. Pagano said.
Ms. Finnegan explained another hurdle the organization has faced recently, when that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an emergency ruling last week that banned the importation of dogs before adoption, from 113 countries.
“The reason they’re doing this, they are saying, is because of rabies,” Ms. Finnegan said. “But it has the most chilling effect ever on the work of hundreds and hundreds of organizations across the world who are working to save dogs and bring awareness to what is happening. We plan to sit at the table with the CDC and give them alternatives so that we can work together collaboratively.”