December 23, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Until the Last Dog Comes Home


December 1, 2021

“What happens there is truly awful; it is like nothing you can imagine,” Jacqueline Finnegan, vice president of No Dogs Left Behind, Inc., told Anton Media Group in an interview describing the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival in East Asia.

Finnegan said that dogs that are victimized by the dog meat trade suffer horrific abuse. They are beaten, bound with wire around their jaws and feet, and crammed into sharp metal cages, where they endure long transports without any food or water. Although the festival began in 2009, dog meat consumption in many cultures around the world has been recorded for centuries and continues legally in China, Nigeria, Switzerland, and Vietnam, among other nations.

In 2016, Jeffrey Beri founded No Dogs Left Behind after successfully leading a historic rescue effort, which culminated in the transport of 121 Yulin slaughterhouse survivors from Asia, to their forever homes in the United States.

Beri and his team spent eight months on the ground in East Asia rehabilitating, medically treating, and socializing the dogs, developing effective shelter operation protocols, and establishing a vaccination and microchipping program. Through the allied partnership, this historic rescue accomplished what no one had ever done before: executing a full-scale rescue operation from slaughterhouse to final transport, with the largest number of dogs that had ever been attempted, all within an eight-month period. Beri went back to the region to bring 50 more dogs out of the dog meat trade, drawing on the experience he had gained in the first rescue and implementing the same shelter protocols he had developed.

Finnegan said that when the dogs are rescued, they are wounded, starved, dehydrated, sick, and terrified. It takes countless hours of patient effort to show these survivors that they are safe and to teach them to trust humans again. Beri and his team work tirelessly with the dogs to train, rehabilitate and socialize them, a critical step to ensure they are ready for adoption.

No Dogs Left Behind works hands-on with local activists through emergency response, pulling dogs directly from slaughterhouses, dog meat trucks, wet markets, and traffickers. The organization’s mission extends beyond borders worldwide, advocating for the creation and enforcement of animal welfare laws and raising awareness for a cruelty-free, sustainable world in which no animal is violated, exploited, tortured, or slaughtered for commercial goods or profit.

With nearly 500 survivors in the organization’s care, No Dogs Left Behind operates sanctuaries in Dayi and Gongyi. In these safe-havens, these once victimized and exploited dogs receive medical care, nutritional support, and rehabilitation on an ongoing basis.

“International pressure has helped because we’ve seen Indonesia and also South Korea have both taken a stance against the consumption of dog meat; that’s huge, but there are so many more countries and they have taken the position, but they have not enacted laws yet,” Finnegan said. “The pressure will always come with the dollars. How people spend their money helps move the needle one way or another. International awareness and pressure have definitely been important.

On Dec. 16, No Dogs Left Behind is hosting Raise the Woof, a comedy show awareness fundraiser at Governor’s Comedy Club (90 Division Ave., Levittown), sponsored by London Jewelers at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50; doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show is for guests, ages 16 and older, two-drink minimum purchase required. Parking is free. Raffles will be offered. All proceeds support the organization’s work to end the dog meat trade in Asia.

Until all of the dog meat trucks are empty, until every wire cage is destroyed, and until every slaughterhouse is shut down, No Dogs Left Behind will not stop fighting to end the dog meat trade in every corner of the world.

Commentaries of IALA

The dog meat industry should be banned or limited according to the culture and legal background in different countries. Historically, dog meat was once used as one source of food in some countries or regions, but dog meat has never been the major source of food in any country or region. With the development of society and culture, more and more people treat dogs as friends or family members. On the other side, dog meat has the risk of food hygiene as well as the spread of rabies. In order to maintain people’s health, animal welfare, and public safety, it is better to ban or set limitations on the dog meat industry as early as possible upon the culture in each region.

Read our blog: Dog Meat: Consumption and Regulations in Asia.

Pakistani Wildlife Team Cradles Green Turtles Babies from Beach to Sea


December 6, 2021

Because of COVID-19 and movement restrictions, beaches around the world have been more sparsely inhabited by humans since last year. Sea turtles have taken the opportunity to return to their birthplaces in large numbers, reclaiming the now less-polluted, serene beaches to lay their eggs during the main September-November breeding season.

Green turtles seen on Karachi beaches jumped to 15,000 last year from 8,000-8,500 in 2019, Sindh Wildlife says. Lockdowns ended by the start of this year's season, but conservation experts still expect a large number of endangered animals to visit. Among the largest sea turtles and the only herbivores, adult green turtles can weigh more than 90 kg (200 pounds).

They nest in more than 80 countries and live in tropical and subtropical coastal areas of more than 140. Conservation group Sea Turtle Conservancy says there are 85,000 to 90,000 nesting females worldwide. The weather in Karachi can be conducive to egg-laying as late as January, and wildlife officials will keep up their vigil until then.

As soon as the mother turtle leaves, staff hurry to dig out the eggs and move them to a three-foot (1-meter) deep pit in a hatchery until the babies hatch, 40-45 days later. The hatchlings are taken to the beach immediately and released into the sea.

The Sindh turtle unit has released 860,000 turtle babies into the Arabian Sea since being set up in 1970. Memon said 900 have been released so far this season. Conservationists say that in the past, sea turtle populations were threatened by demand for their fat, meat, and eggs, but in recent years loss of habitat due to pollution and land reclamation have also taken their toll.

Commentaries of IALA

The pandemic of COVID-19 bring people into abnormal lives, but at the same time, more wildlife found their lives back with fewer tourists and less impact from activities by human beings. The pandemic gives people another chance to rethink the relationships between people, animals, and the environment. The world belongs to all living beings and all living beings have the right to live on the same earth.

Thai Construction Tycoon Jailed as Supreme Court Upholds Wildlife Poaching Verdict


December 8, 2021

Thailand's Supreme Court upheld a guilty verdict on Wednesday against construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who will serve more than three years in jail after losing his final appeal in a high-profile case centered on the poaching of protected animals.

Premchai, president of Thailand's largest construction company Italian Thai Development Pcl (ITD.BK), was convicted in 2019 by a criminal court of offenses that include poaching in a wildlife sanctuary, poaching protected species, and possessing an unlicensed firearm.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed a 2019 appeals court judgment that upheld the lower court's decision, according to the attorney general’s office, which corrected its earlier announcement that the top court had reduced Premchai's sentence. His case has been of huge public interest since 2018, when Premchai, his driver, and a huntsman were found at a jungle campsite at the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary near carcasses of protected animals, including a Kalij pheasant and a black Indochinese leopard.

Thai pro-democracy activists have adopted the black leopard as a symbol for what they say is a culture of impunity in Thailand for the rich and powerful. The Supreme Court's judgment was final for Premchai, who has previously apologized for the poaching cases.

Premchai will serve three years and two months in prison, while his driver and the hunter will serve terms three months and seven months longer, respectively. Premchai has also lost his appeals against judgments in separate cases of bribing authorities and illegal possession of firearms, for which he was sentenced to one year and six months in jail respectively.

Commentaries of IALA

The law prescribes to have every individual be equal before the court. “Wildlife crime” refers to the taking, trading (supplying, selling, or trafficking), importing, exporting, processing, possessing, obtaining, and consumption of wild fauna and flora, including timber and other forest products, in contravention of national or international law. Wildlife crime is one of the serious international crimes. According to WWF, the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal trade behind drugs, people smuggling, and counterfeiting, worth an estimated £15 billion annually.

Learn more about wildlife crime by CITES here.

Tigers, Jaguars Under Threat from Tropical Hydropower Projects: Study


December 9, 2021

The flooding of land for hydroelectric dams has affected more than one-fifth of the world’s tigers (Panthera tigris) and one in two hundred jaguars (Panthera onca), according to the findings of a new study published Dec. 9 in the journal Communications Biology.

Seen by some as a low-carbon solution to global energy needs, large-scale hydropower projects are increasingly prevalent in the tropics, where untapped power potential overlaps with biodiverse landscapes. In recent years, scientists and Indigenous rights groups have criticized many such schemes for failing to fully consider impacts on biodiversity, freshwater connectivity, and local communities.

Gibson and his colleague, Ana Filipa Palmeirim, used published data on the population density and global distribution of tigers and jaguars to calculate the area of habitat loss and the number of individuals affected by existing and planned hydropower reservoirs. They found that 13,750 square kilometers (5,300 square miles) of tiger habitat and 25,397 km2 (9,800 mi2) of jaguar habitat have been flooded to create hydroelectric reservoirs. A total of 729 tigers, or 20% of the global population, have been displaced by dams, whereas 915 jaguars or 0.5% of the global population has been affected.

The findings are bad news for the struggling big cats. Both species are suffering population declines due to habitat loss, poaching, shifting prey patterns, and the effects of climate change. Jaguars are listed as near threatened by the IUCN, having disappeared from half of their range between Patagonia and the U.S. Southwest over recent decades. Today, around 173,000 jaguars remain, nearly half of which live in Brazil. Tigers face an even more precarious future. Although the IUCN lists the species as endangered, tigers have vanished from more than 93% of their historical range over the last century, with populations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam declared locally extinct in recent years. Overall, assessments estimate there to be as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild.


Top predators are particularly vulnerable to direct habitat loss because they depend on large and contiguous habitats for their long-term survival — habitats that shrink when the land is submerged for power. And the impact of these projects is not limited to the footprint of the reservoirs. Access roads, construction routes, and transmission lines further fragment and degrade surrounding habitats and open up once-remote habitats to hunting and resource extraction.


Although fewer dams are planned in Asia, hydropower proposals in the region do not consider the long-term survival of tigers, according to the study. Most planned dams overlap with priority tiger landscapes, protected areas, and forest complexes in locations such as Bhutan, Nepal, and the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.

According to the study, such future projects have the potential to “derail” the 2010 St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, in which government ministers from the 13 countries that still had wild tiger populations at the time committed to implementing measures to double wild populations by 2022.

The drive by many policymakers to commit to green energy expansion regardless of the costs underlie poor decision-making, Gibson said. “A good example is Brazil, which derives around 70% of its electricity from hydropower. Some recent research has suggested that future droughts in this region will decrease the electricity output from existing dams, so, as crazy as it may sound, one policy to combat this might be to build more dams.

Commentaries of IALA

Large animals need a large area to live and they are more vulnerable when facing the human impact. Fragmentation forests and nature reserves have a more severe impact on large animals. On one hand, it is necessary to consider the negative environmental impact on large animals when building roads and large artificial facilities. On the other hand, it is important to build bridges and channels between each reserved area to guarantee the basic needs of large animals. Nevertheless, the public shall be aware of the needs of animals and take all necessary steps to preserve their habitats.

Vietnamese Tourist City Pledges to Phase Out Dog and Cat Meat


December 10, 2021

A popular Vietnamese tourist city has pledged to phase out selling cat and dog meat, officials said Friday (Dec 10), a first in a nation where some consider the animals a delicacy. An estimated five million canines are consumed every year in Vietnam, the second-highest in the world behind China, with some believing eating the meat can help dispel bad luck.

Authorities in Hoi An, a historic trading port and World Heritage site, signed a deal with animal rights group Four Paws International promising to phase out sales and consumption of cat and dog meat.

"We want to help promote animal welfare through rabies eradication, phasing out the dog and cat meat trade, and making the city a premier destination for tourism," vice city mayor Nguyen The Hung said. Julie Sanders from Four Paws International said it was a watershed moment that might set an example for other places in Vietnam.

A national poll commissioned by the animal rights group this year found only an estimated 6.3 percent of 600 Vietnamese surveyed consume the four-pawed creatures, with 88 percent supporting a ban. The custom has waned as incomes rise and the affluent keep the animals as pets but dog meat remains readily available in Hanoi with some dismissive of animal welfare concerns.

In 2018, Hanoi officials encouraged people to stop eating dog meat as it was damaging the capital's reputation and there were health concerns it could lead to deadly rabies infections.

Commentaries of IALA

It is a good step for Vietnam to gradually ban the eating of dog meat. The dog meat industry is rarely regulated in Vietnam and meat is used as one of the food sources. Banning the industry shall take the local morality and culture into consideration. The law and society shall improve and influence each other together.

Read our blog Animal Law in Vietnam and the interview with our Alliance member Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue.

Time to Confront Southeast Asia’s Online Wildlife Trafficking


December 13, 2021

Southeast Asia has experienced an explosion of e-commerce, social media, and digital services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already home to 400 million users, 40 million more people in the region became consumers of digital services in 2020. This technological momentum shows no signs of slowing as digital penetration continues to rise. Online shopping alone is forecasted to reach $172 billion by 2025, more than double the amount in 2020. The rise of e-commerce brings opportunities for a diverse spread of sectors, both legal and illegal.

If not properly addressed, however, cybercrime could proliferate across the region. According to the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, illegal wildlife trafficking is worth upwards of $2.5 billion a year, and cases are rising worldwide up to 7 percent annually. As COVID-19 restrictions ease in Southeast Asia, traffickers have the potential to exploit the opportunities presented by increased economic activity, digital services, and reopened borders to expand illegal wildlife trading, which threatens the future security and sustainability of the region’s ecosystem.

Reported cases of illegal wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia have decreased since the start of the pandemic due to border closures, travel restrictions, and trade suspensions. However, these figures ignore the number of products bought from online sources and shipped to sellers, stockpiled wildlife products, and decreased enforcement and record-keeping in 2020. As COVID-19 plunged 104 million people in Asia into extreme poverty, cases of illegal wildlife hunting and local trade amplified. Although online trafficking has been around for years, the number of wildlife products sold online in Southeast Asia has doubled since 2015, and the increase of online services is likely to rise through the region’s digital transformation.

Facebook’s ubiquity throughout Southeast Asia has spotlighted the platform as an online hub for illegal wildlife trafficking. In Indonesia, a country with a whopping 130 million social media users, Facebook is at the center of the ivory trade. According to monitoring data from TRAFFIC, between January and May 2021, Facebook removed 1,953 groups linked to prohibited wildlife sales in Indonesia and the Philippines the year before. From December 2019 to May 2020, more than 2,100 wild animals from 94 different species were on sale on Facebook in Myanmar, and those only include the accounts that were flagged.

The digitalization of illegal wildlife trafficking has made combating crimes exponentially more difficult. Traffickers use online advertisements to expand and expedite the sales of illicit projects. Limited resources and increasing case numbers constrain efforts to fight cybercrime. Traffickers can protect their identities under layers of digital cover by using misleading account names, encrypted applications, multiple accounts, and secure virtual private networks (VPNs). An added problem is that digital platforms allow customers to easily find exotic products through social media search bars instead of in-person contacts. Once the purchases are made, they can then be shipped by mail in small pieces that make detection even more difficult.

Wildlife traffickers in Southeast Asia often use cheap and effective equipment like wire snares that indiscriminately target and maim critically endangered species. Targeted wildlife, often taken from remote natural environments, are then sold to customers in urban populations, leaving local communities at risk of losing sources of nutrition. These practices worsen food security and deepen the economic disparity between rural and urban populations. The COVID-19 pandemic is also a prime example of how close contact with wildlife can have an adverse effect on human health.

Enforcement of laws against online wildlife trafficking has been reliant on policing by local NGOs and tech companies that monitor platforms for illegal sales. A key example is the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, a partnership of 47 companies, including social media giants, that have standardized their collaboration in finding and removing online support of wildlife trafficking. Social media and e-commerce companies have begun to give more attention to this issue. For example, Instagram and Alibaba are adding automatic pop-ups for users searching for hashtags related to illegal wildlife trafficking. Law enforcement must create long-term and sustainable strategies for combating such cybercrime. Greater inter-regional enforcement and research are needed from agencies such as the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network and external funding like USAID’s Wildlife Asia, a $24.5 million initiative to counter the illegal trade.

The Biden administration has made clear its intention to tackle the climate crisis with sustainable solutions. Environmental conservation efforts and green strategies are incomplete without any meaningful steps to tackle illegal wildlife trafficking and the vulnerabilities presented by the industry’s nascent digitalization. Furthermore, funding support from the United States to combat illicit wildlife trafficking will help support national security for Southeast Asian nations by eliminating revenue sources for organized crime.

Illegal wildlife trafficking is poised for a disastrous expansion as countries in Southeast Asia begin to reopen their borders again and attract international tourists. Studies show areas home to increased trade, tourism, and labor in Southeast Asia have become hotspots for trafficking. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued a warning about the potential of wildlife trafficking to increase as Southeast Asian economies invest in attracting more tourists, trade, commerce, and travel.

Commentaries of IALA

“Although Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, it has more threatened species across almost every taxonomic group than anywhere else. ASEAN nations have embraced plans for green economies and infrastructure that work harmoniously with natural resources to combat climate change and bolster economic growth. These promises belie the disheartening reality that hundreds of species are projected to go extinct if current trends continue. Sustainable growth will become more challenging as ecosystems are stunted by wildlife destruction; Southeast Asia already experiences the world’s fastest rate of deforestation, and an increase of illegal wildlife trafficking undermines the region’s goals to protect its biodiversity.”

According to TRAFFIC, the Illegal wildlife trade, as known as wildlife cybercrime, the world over is steadily shifting towards digital platforms and online markets. Online wildlife crime is harder to be found and regulated, and it brings a multitude of regulatory, enforcement and conservation challenges. It is hard to track the activities of traffickers, buyers, and sellers within different online platforms on the borderless Internet. Learn more about wildlife cybercrime here.

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