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puppy love Irish charity which rescues and rehomes dogs destined for Chinese meat markets gets a huge boost

It could not have come through at a better time for us, both because we felt very down about everything that was going on with the pandemic and also about our lack of fundraising because of the crisis"

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COMPASSION: Shakira Murray of Little China Dog Rescue with rescued Jaya

COMPASSION: Shakira Murray of Little China Dog Rescue with rescued Jaya

Ricky before being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky before being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky after being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky after being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

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COMPASSION: Shakira Murray of Little China Dog Rescue with rescued Jaya

An incredible Ulster charity which rescues dog from China destined for the country’s murky dog meat trade has been awarded charity status.

Shakira Murray of Little China Dog Rescue first spoke to the Sunday World of her amazing work back in 2018, revealing how she, her colleagues and volunteers were successfully flying dogs from Chinese dog meat markets, where they were being tortured and prepared for slaughter, to loving families in Northern Ireland where they could happily live out the rest of their years.

Speaking of the group’s charity status being granted on February 12, Shakira explained: “It’s been about three years now we’ve been rescuing dogs – we were told it would be roughly a three-year process to get charity status so we were really happy that we were able to get it within that time frame, given the problems caused by the pandemic.

“We thought we might have to wait until everything got back to normal again, but we were absolutely delighted and we couldn’t believe it when we got the news.

“It could not have come through at a better time for us, both because we felt very down about everything that was going on with the pandemic and also about our lack of fundraising because of the crisis.

“We were feeling really deflated, but getting that news picked everybody up.”

While the dog meat market in China has been made illegal by the government, it still continues in some areas, as does the abuse.

Unfortunately, the dogs destined for human consumption are routinely tortured, with those who eat the animals believing this adds a number of benefits to the dog meat.

Shakira explained: “In the Chinese markets, everything seems to be focused on the torture of the dogs. It’s that which really pulls at your heartstrings. The torture is supposed to make the consumed meat increase the sexual potency of those who eat it and things like that.

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Ricky before being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky before being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky before being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

“While the dog meat trade in China is illegal, it does continue. Even though the trade is supposed to have stopped, the shelters are still overrun with dogs.

“We have witnessed sad incidents ourselves in China. In one instance we were at the shelter and a lady turned up with a German shepherd saying she didn’t want it, but when she turned it over she asked for the collar back because she said she was going to get another dog.

“We were actually able to rehome that dog back here where he found a family and now he is living his best life ever.

“With the younger generation in China there seems to be more of an opposition towards the dog meat trade, and hopefully at some point I think it will stop.”

Speaking of how Little China Dog Rescue (LCDR) has fared during the pandemic, Shakira, who comes from Castlewellan, Co Down, and is the group’s deputy chairperson, said she and founder Gabby Gardiner have seen numbers drop dramatically in terms of the amount of dogs they have been able to fly over to Northern Ireland from China, but that interest from members of the public inquiring about adopting a rescue dog has remained strong.

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Ricky after being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky after being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

Ricky after being rehomed by Naughty Mutt Nice dog groomers

“We do have a lot of people, more so now, looking for dogs and we also have a lot of people offering to foster, but what we’re finding is that whenever you back to that person saying you may have a dog for them, they’re then saying they might have to go back to work and might not be able to look after it.”

Shakira also explained how the pandemic has had a massive hit to the charity in terms of fundraising.

“It’s so expensive to get the dogs out of China, and there are so many restrictions on at the moment that it’s nearly impossible.

“China is like everywhere else in that everything has stopped because of the pandemic. We haven’t really been able to get any more dogs out since the pandemic started – just a handful have been rescued.

Begging

“Our biggest problem at the moment is that we obviously can’t get out fundraising.

“We feel as if we’re constantly begging at the moment. We still have to pay the boarding fees and our food bills.”

While LCDR has access to sanctuaries in China where rescued dogs are looked after before being flown to their new homes, Shakira says it is the aim of the charity to have their own sanctuary in Northern Ireland where pooches can receive medical care and treatment.

“In China we have a safe haven for the dogs, and the people there are amazing– they look after the dogs as if they were their own.

“In the future we would love to have a centre here where we’re able to look after the dogs before they’re rehomed. At the moment the process we have is that we already have homes lined up for the dogs while they are still in China, so they have families waiting for them when they arrive here.

“If they need more thorough medical care when they first arrive we send them to rehab foster homes first.”

She added: “Up until now in terms of dogs finding new homes, with had a very high success rate, and becoming an official charity will help us even more when things get back to normal, but we’re really struggling for funding and need the public’s help to continue to save dogs from the cruel meat trade, now more than ever before.”

*For more information on LCDR, or to donate, visit www.littlechinadogrescue.co.uk/donate or you can donate through Paypal directly at www.paypal.me/doggy911.

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