Scott Howe, executive director and CEO of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons landed at JFK International Airport on July 17. He had arrived on a late flight from Beijing, China with 10 dogs rescued from the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
ARF had been contacted in May by the not-for-profit China animal welfare group, No Dogs Left Behind, which was asking for volunteers to come to China to bring back 10 of the dogs that had been rescued over the last year. ARF agreed to take the dogs and Howe volunteered to leave for China on July 13.
“In order to get the dogs here,” Howe said, “their owner has to be there on the flight. I became the dogs’ registered owner and after a few days, the 10 dogs and I boarded a flight headed back to New York.”
The flight to transport the rescued animals was financed by donations from Candy Udell of London Jewelers and the local Rescue Paws Foundation she founded in 2011. Both Rescue Paws and ARF have been assisting NDLB, which was founded in 2016 by Jeffrey Beri and Debra Hall.
They had been working with a Chinese group who managed to rescue 1000 dogs from the illegal meat trade but, as Howe explains, “They had no plans as to what to do with them after the rescue. Apparently, a lot of the dogs went to Buddhist monasteries, but they weren’t receiving necessary medical care and so they were dying. What were they saving them from, only to die a slow death?”
“Ten dogs. It’s a small amount for us, but the awareness it creates and what it means to those who are starting an animal welfare movement among Chinese citizens, it’s profound,” he said. “It really makes a difference in the animals’ lives and it’s the beginning of something. Jet lag is a small price to pay for something that changes the lives of these animals and the families the dogs adopt.”
Howe added, “We shouldn’t turn our backs on the world, especially today. I think that is why this trip was so important to me.”
Howe, who spent two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa as a teacher, said, “This trip made me think back to my time in the Peace Corps. It was 20 years ago, but it taught me that if I see suffering, I need to do something about it. I won’t say ‘the problem is too big or it’s futile.’ I need to act and know that that action is going to reverberate, and that’s how change starts.”
According to Howe, two of the rescued dogs already have adopted families. The remaining eight are being cared for by the ARF medical team and once they receive a clean bill of health, the dogs will be available for adoption shortly after. Their profiles will be added to ARF’s “View our Pets” adoption page on its website at www.arfhamptons.org.