A gorgeous doggie that was allegedly “destined to be used for meat” has earned viral fame after she was filmed reaching her paw out to a sympathetic pedestrian. Thanks to that passerby, the lovable pooch was rescued just before it was suspected to be slaughtered, and is now living the good life.
The American Eskimo-Dog, now named Yuan Yuan, is reportedly a stolen pet. She was spotted just outside a meat market in China’s Jilin Province last October. In a video clip that has been shared millions of times by dog-lovers in China, the owner shows how the dog was rescued while demanding that officials in the People’s Republic implement stricter laws to protect the small creatures.
The man uploaded the clip to Douyin, the Chinese version of video-sharing social networking service TikTok, along with the caption: “See how scared it was while waiting to be butchered at the dog meat store, and how hopeful it looked [as she waited for a human to rescue it].”
In the video, the man sits next to a seemingly neglected and dirty Yuan Yuan before he holds out his hand. The puppy then places her paw in the palm of his hand before bashfully looking away.
In other clips, Yuan Yuan can be seen frolicking and playing after becoming a beloved family pet rather than a slab of meat in the display case of the meat market, reports Daily Mail. Experts say that the dog’s demeanor shows that Yuan Yuan had been raised as a pet prior to appearing in Jilin outside of the market.
“The dog in the video responded to human kindness by offering a paw, a sure sign that this dog was almost certainly a former pet, likely stolen for the meat trade,” said Wendy Higgins of Humane Society International (HSI).
The animal rights advocate further said that Beijing must introduce new laws to safeguard dogs and cats from the meat industry, adding: “That is the only way to stop them suffering.”
Under local customs and traditional Chinese medicine practices, dog meat is seen as nutritious and helps to protect people from common summertime diseases. The practice is not quite common in modern China, with the majority of Chinese citizens having never tried dog meat and rejecting the idea of doing so, according to local reports.
In an online poll on social media platform Sina Weibo held in April, over 40,000 Chinese netizens support the idea of a ban on consuming dog meat while only 6,600 opposed the idea. The Chinese government has been taking steps in recent months toward officially banning the trade of dog meat, potentially saving millions of dogs from being slaughtered every year.
People employed in dog-related businesses have opposed the measures, especially in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which is home to the annual traditional dog meat festival in the city of Yulin. While the festival has been the target of ire by both domestic and international animal rights activists, dog business owners claim that the cost of changing professions is too much of a burden to handle in the short term.
“Momentum is building in China to tackle the dog and cat meat trades, and while I don’t think anyone expects Yulin’s dog meat trade to close up overnight, what the activists witnessed could indicate that things are shifting even in Yulin,” said HSI China policy specialist Dr. Peter Li ahead of the Yulin dog meat festival earlier this year.
The behavior of Yuan Yuan seems to indicate that she hadn’t entirely lost her faith in humans, one expert said. “Dogs might lift one of their paws up when they’re becoming unsure about something as this can be a way for a dog to communicate they need space,” a spokesperson from U.K. dog welfare charity Dogs Trust said.
“However, if a dog has previously learnt that offering their paw to a person results in something positive happening such as receiving a treat, attention or reassurance, then they will might well offer their paw in response to someone holding out their hand.”
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