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covid impact Charity that saves dogs from Chinese meat trade spent £9,000 to rescue just one dog

'They torture the animals first in the most horrific ways... they believe by torturing them the animals release some sort of chemicals which improves the taste of the meat.'

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Glenn Ford of Barn Animal Rescue

Glenn Ford of Barn Animal Rescue

Glenn Ford of Barn Animal Rescue

A charity that saves dogs from the Chinese meat trade had to spend £9,000 because of Covid to rescue just one dog from ending up as dinner.

The Barn Animal Rescue in Newtownards has been working with other dog charities for the last few years and have rescued more than 25 dogs from China - all destined to be tortured and turned into meat for human consumption.

But Covid regulations have meant the costs have sky-rocketed, in some cases by 1,000 per cent, but charity boss Glenn Ford says they'll continue to bring the dogs over despite the 'barking mad' transport fees.

"Once you've been to China and seen the torture these dogs go through you just want to rescue them all," he explains.

Old English sheepdog Eclipse, pictured here on a rehabilitative wheelchair, could be the country's most expensive rescue dog ever, as it ended up costing £9,000 to get her to Northern Ireland.

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Eclipse cost £9,000 to bring over from China. She couldn't walk and needed to be put in a wheelchair for six months to build up her muscle tone when she arrived here.

Eclipse cost £9,000 to bring over from China. She couldn't walk and needed to be put in a wheelchair for six months to build up her muscle tone when she arrived here.

Eclipse cost £9,000 to bring over from China. She couldn't walk and needed to be put in a wheelchair for six months to build up her muscle tone when she arrived here.

"We had decided to rescue Eclipse and you can see from the pictures of her now just how rewarding it is," says Glenn.

"It used to cost us about £500 to bring a small dog over from China and £1,000 roughly for a big dog - most of the costs are in the transport and the size of the crate.

"Before Covid they travelled in normal planes but now because of the pandemic they have to travel in cargo planes and now it's costing normally between £3,000 and £5,000.

"Eclipse cost extra because she had to travel through Malaysia last summer and the authorities there insisted she had to travel in a bigger crate which cost an extra £3,000.

"We suspect there was a bit of corruption going on with the guards but there was nothing we could do so we had to pay it - we were already committed to saving her and she was halfway home."

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Glenn Ford in China two years ago visiting the rescue centre in Northern Province where they get the dogs from

Glenn Ford in China two years ago visiting the rescue centre in Northern Province where they get the dogs from

Glenn Ford in China two years ago visiting the rescue centre in Northern Province where they get the dogs from

The charity fundraises specifically for dogs like Eclipse and he says people know if they are donating to The Barn Animal Rescue they are helping local dogs rather than ones from China.

And Eclipse, who it's believed is two years old, is now living her best life in a loving home in Northern Ireland.

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Glenn says: "We know it's a lot of money but we set up as a rescue charity and this is great rescue work, it's just what we do.

"When I saw pictures of Eclipse lying on the ground in China, all emaciated with her hip bones poking out and clearly unable to walk, I immediately said, 'We'll take her'.

"I know we are only scratching the surface but we feel we have to do the best we can."

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Farmed pups from China

Farmed pups from China

Farmed pups from China

Dogs like Eclipse were heading for the Chinese meat market and was almost certainly going to be tortured before she was eaten.

And it's the way the animals, not just dogs but cats as well, are tortured which really shocked Glenn and made him determine to rescue as many as he could.

"I had always thought some people were eating meat in China because of some ancient tradition going back 3,000 years but that's not the case at all," says Glenn.

"It's relatively new and is happening because of some North Koreans coming over to the Northern Province and are unable to afford meat from cows and sheep. Red meat is very expensive and so some started eating meat from dogs and cats as a cheaper alternative.

"But they torture the animals first in the most horrific ways. Apparently, they believe by torturing them the animals release some sort of chemicals which improves the taste of the meat.

"They have been known to blow torch all their fur off and then they'll boil them alive. They'll also tie them up like chickens while alive and blow torch their throats so they can't bite back.

"When I visited China and saw the state of the dogs and the way they had been treated it was the most distressing thing I've ever seen."

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Dogs suffer brutal conditions at markets and on farms in China

Dogs suffer brutal conditions at markets and on farms in China

Dogs suffer brutal conditions at markets and on farms in China

There are also claims the torturing of the dogs releases chemicals into the meat which give those eating it sexual powers.

Glenn got involved with the Chinese dogs through another Ulster charity, Little China Dog Rescue, and they have hooked up with a rescue centre in Northern Province called BoHe, after the woman who runs it.

"When we visited BoHe there were about 2,000 dogs there and it's basically a haven for them but they don't have any veterinary care or medical support.

"While we were there the meat truck would pull up some days packed with dogs. The dogs are all destined for torture and slaughter, but the driver knows BoHe might pay him more to rescue some of them than he'd get from selling them for meat.

"If she has money she'll buy as many as she can to save them but if she doesn't there's nothing she can do."

The charity is expecting five new dogs from China next week and Glenn will collect them in Liverpool.

Already in Newtownards is poodle cross Harper, who was rescued from China recently.

"You can see the difference - when we got him he had no fur and he had to have 19 teeth removed," says Glenn.

"But he's a brilliant wee dog and he's going to be adopted soon. All the dogs are checked thoroughly by vets to comply with government regulations.

"When you see the change in Harper then that's the payback for us. It's very hard work but it's very rewarding too."

Glenn started The Barn Animal Rescue charity about six years ago. After retiring, Glenn and his wife, Joanne, got Maggie, a rescue dog from a centre in Co Cavan. And they blame Labrador Maggie for the 'predicament' they find themselves in now.

"We found Maggie at this rescue centre in Co Cavan and she'd been tied to a tree in forest and set alight by some teenagers.

"We fell in love with her but we also loved the work the centre was doing so we thought it was something we'd like to do in our retirement.

"It snowballed from there and once you start this kind of work you just can't stop. We got more and more dogs and so we've started something we can't finish.

"So yes we kind of blame Maggie because we really should be travelling Europe in a campervan rather than doing all this!"

Glenn lives on site at the rescue centre which is close to Carrowdore and they've built 30 kennels with underfloor heating. They have a policy that all dogs are either found a new home or they stay at The Barn for the rest of their lives.

"We've had plenty of spanners thrown into the works, mostly with planning permission with the council, but we are hopeful that will be resolved soon," he says.

"About 80 per cent of the dogs we get here are surrendered by owners who, for a variety of reasons, just can't look after their dogs any more.

"I've seen big tattooed men here bawling their eyes out because they have had to give up their Staffies, it's a very emotional thing.

"We rely on around 20 volunteers to help us and we always tell our new volunteers they have to treat the dogs like they are their own.

"We do our very best to find new homes for every dog but some just can't be rehomed and they will live their days out here.

"This all makes it expensive to run so we rely on the donations we get from the public."

You find out more information about the charity's work on social media and you can donate by PayPal through thebarnanimalrescueards@gmail.com

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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