A dog that was saved from the dinner plate has found a new home in St Annes.
Poppy the two-year-old English sheep dog was living on the streets as a stray when she was captured for her meat, and could have been served up as a delicacy at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.
But she was rescued from a slaughterhouse in Baicheng by activists from Plush Bears Shelter and transported from Beijing to France, then through the Channel Tunnel to England, where she was finally united with her new owner, Sue Howarth, on October 15.
Sue, 68, owner of the dog-friendly Howarth House Hotel on Clifton Drive South, said: “I have followed the Yulin Meat Festival for about five years, and Plush Bears is one of the rescues that I followed, and I just happened to see a sheepdog in one of their videos. I have always said that one day I will adopt a dog, and after having two sheepdogs already, when I saw this one I just couldn’t refuse.
“She was first spotted being loaded onto a truck by traders. Plush Bear rescue followed the truck to the slaughterhouse, where the dogs were locked in the filthy holding pens to wait until it was their turn to be dragged to the kill floor.
“They bought about 70 of them and put them on the truck to take them back to the rescue. I saw the video and fell in love and thought ‘she’s got my name all over her’.”
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an annual celebration held in Yulin, China, during the summer solstice, in which dogs are traditionally eaten with lychees.
The festival has been strongly criticised by animal rights supporters, who say the dogs are treated cruelly and kept in awful conditions.
Footage shared with The Gazette by Plush Bears Shelter shows Poppy being lifted into a cage by her neck, and again in a pen with dozens of other dogs, allegedly waiting to be taken for slaughter.
But organisers of the festival say that eating dogs is no different to eating pigs and cows.
Sue said: “It’s absolutely horrific; it’s beyond words, beyond belief. I agree that despite the laws in this country there is an awful lot of brutality that goes on here, but this stands out to me as something that doesn’t get enough acknowledgement. We are a nation of dog-lovers but sometimes we put our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not happening. Since I started the adoption process with Poppy, so many people I have spoken to haven't heard of the Yulin Festival.
"People don't want to talk about it because it's out of sight, out of mind, but I'd just like to show people the fantastic rewards of adopting one of these dogs."
A spokesman for Plush Bears said: "We will continue to rescue and rehome dogs while simultaneously raising awareness of this barbaric and abhorrent trade. The world can no longer turn a blind eye and it’s paramount that we continue our work to highlight this savage cruelty and the plight of man's best friend in China."