O is for Ocean

OIt all started with our road trip to Myrtle Beach, SC, by way of Shreveport and Atlanta. We headed out around midnight and stopped at 5am to gamble for a few hours at the casino in Shreveport. After a free breakfast buffet, we took our winnings and got back on the highway. We hit Atlanta just as the morning rush hour was starting and we got lost as we cruised around looking for the Fulton County Stadium so Brian, an avid and almost maniacal baseball fan, could say he’d seen the stadium where the Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series.  

We finally reached Myrtle Beach. We settled in to our ocean front room, showered and, because we’d been on the road for two days, crashed hard. The next morning we got up early and hit the beach.

Brian had never been to an east coast beach and it had been years since I’d been in Myrtle Beach. The day welcomed us with sunshine and balmy breezes and the ocean waves beckoned us with promises of fun and adventure. We goofed around in the water for quite a while then both of us got quiet and we just laid back and let the water wash over us, yielding to the push and pull of the waves.  

There’s something so enchanting about the ocean water and the weightlessness that you feel as the waves lift and transport you. Brian says being in the ocean water feels like God has his arms around him.

I don’t know how much time had passed as I floated, scanning the expansive horizon and the far off waves, which glittered like diamonds in the sun’s beams. I turned to say something to Brian and was immediately overwhelmed to see how far I was from the shore. At the time I hadn’t realized it, but I was about 1/8th of a mile away from the shoreline, a little more than the length of two football fields. I started to panic, and the more I panicked, the farther out the waves took me. I yelled to Brian. He hadn’t noticed how far out I had drifted either. He could see the fear in my face and hear it in my voice. He kept telling me, “Just go with the waves. When the wave comes in, swim into it and let it bring you closer. I’m coming to get you. Just stay calm.”

It seemed like forever before he finally got to me. But he did and as soon as I fell into his arms I felt safe. I knew he’d bring me all the way back in. And he did. Just in time for a big wave to swipe the glasses off his face! Then it was my turn to rescue him. I took him by the hand and led him back to our hotel; he couldn’t see even mere inches in front of him. Of course it was the weekend and we had to wait until Monday morning to go see an optician and get him a new pair of glasses. 

It was definitely a vacation where we learned the formidability of the great ocean and we both came away with deep reverence for its power.

The respect which I had always held for the ocean deepened to an awe of its tremendous deception. The ocean is a world foreign to the one that I’ve so self-confidently navigated on land. It moves to its own rules and is merciful to none. What happened to me sounds like such a tiny little incident in comparison to what others have experienced in the great depths of the ocean blue, but it was enough for me to admit complete inferiority and bow down to its great might. It also gave me trepidation to enter its world again. I may walk a short distance into the salt water but I’m way more comfortable sitting on the shore and admiring it from afar…

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Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. Photos by Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

Help Stop the Dog Meat Trade in China!

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I’m participating in the Blog the Change for Animals Blog Hop. All participants write about a particular issue for which they are passionate and together are blogging to make a difference in the lives of animals. The topic I have chosen to discuss is the barbaric dog meat trade in China.

 This is a horrifying industry and needs to be stopped! For the last several years activists have been trying to make headway with changing this barbaric practice in China. They are making small strides but we need to continue to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Please help spread the word so the lives of these dogs can be saved. Continued pressure from public outcry can result in the implementation of much needed laws. Social media is playing a big role in these efforts so please help spread the word. Many thanks.

Here are a few of the stories from within the last several months, with current updates:

From Peace Panthers, including the latest update of reaching 200,000 signatures as of March 24, 2014: Stop Horrific Dog Meat Trade!!! Demand China Make Animal Cruelty Laws!!!

Chinese activists recently stood up to dog meat traders and rescued 900 dogs bound for slaughter for human consumption. Many of the dogs were clearly stolen family pets, even wearing tags and collars: Huskies, German Shepherds, Poodles and the like, many extremely ill and dying from the slave ship like conditions of the truck and cages. One woman found her lost Golden Retriever on the truck, but was told she could not take him home unless she paid off the trader. The activists were beaten and after a 50 hour standoff finally rescued all of the dogs. However, by that time some dogs had died and the activists were forced to bury them at the scene.

hundreds of dogs stuffed in cages for transport in Chinese dog meat trade

The world has watched these pictures and videos in astonishment that in this day and age people could be so fiendish and barbaric. Everyday dogs and cats are dying in the smashed cages on the trucks, denied food and water for days, then skinned alive in front of the other dogs to increase terror and suffering. Some of the dogs give birth while in the cages and many pups die because of crushing, filthy conditions or simply falling out of the cages. Workers throw the cages to the ground when unloading the trucks, breaking the bones of the dogs. A recent undercover operation showed the skinned animals actually able to still lift their heads after being thrown into a pile of other dogs.

The fact that China has absolutely no laws for the care and humane treatment of animals is outrageous. We ask you, President Xi Jinping, to put animal cruelty laws in place now and to ban all aspects of the dog meat and dog and cat fur trades. The world is watching. We stand with the brave activists who saved the 900 dogs in Anwen town.

 See the Petition below and view the progress reports here.

To: Chinese President Xi Jinping,
President Xi Jinping:
We, the undersigned, urge you to put an end to the corrupt and horrific Chinese dog meat and dog and cat fur trades immediately. Recently the world watched as Chinese police stood up for the corrupt dog meat traders and beat activists who tried to stop a truck overloaded with 900 dogs, some of them family pets. Undercover footage has shown dogs and cats being skinned alive, some still able to hold their heads up as they look into a camera. Because of these inhumane and fiendish acts, people around the world are looking at China with shame and disdain.The purpose of this petition is to demand that China design and implement anti-cruelty laws now, and end all aspects of the corrupt dog and cat trade. China is being ruined in the eyes of the world and many people already boycott all Chinese made products. Is it worth it to have the good people of your country dragged through the mud because of a few who behave without dignity, humanity or honor? Please do the right thing for your country and your presidency and draft animal anti-cruelty laws, and ban the dog and cat meat and fur trade now. The world is watching and the world stands in solidarity with the brave activists who rescued the 900 dogs in Anwen town.
Thank you,

[Your name]

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From Ultraculture: Dog Meat, Animal Cruelty and the Growing Outcry of Chinese Digital Activists Chinese Dog trade - dogs in cages

Imagine seeing a wire cage the size of a shopping cart stuffed with fifteen dogs. Huskies, German Shepherds, poodles and retrievers. All painfully unable to move, most unable to breathe and suffocating. Now imagine an entire flatbed truck full of dogs in those kinds of cages—927 dogs to be exact. This is what people in Chongquing, China, saw on March 2, 2013. The truck was bound for a slaughter facility, and the dogs were to be for human consumption. Many of the dogs were visibly ill and dying; some were already dead. More shocking is the fact that many were wearing collars with tags; clearly stolen family pets.

dogs stuffed in cages for transport in horrific Chinese dog meat tradeA peaceful but concerned group of citizens eventually surrounded the truck, asking for the release of the dogs. What ensued was to be a 50 hour standoff between them, dog meat traders and police. Amidst beatings, the activists set up a makeshift camp around the truck. They managed to unload the dogs as more people arrived on the scene as reinforcements. One woman found her lost Golden Retriever in one of the cages and was told she could not take him home as he was property of the meat traders. The woman had to buy back her dog from them as they announced they were prepared to let all the dogs die of “natural causes” by denying food and water. Volunteers had to give her dog IV fluids because he was very weak and unstable, as were all of the others.

In the end, with the help of the Chongquing Small Animal Protection Association, all 927 dogs were turned over to the activists. The traders could not provide documentation for each dog, since many were stolen, making it a “food safety issue.” Sadly, at least twenty dogs had died, and the activists were forced to bury them at the site. They then called for a “civil and organized” intake of the dogs, with veterinarians providing assistance; donations of food, cleaning supplies, and suitable cages pouring in from around China.

The young Chinese generation coming of age now has grown up with the Internet and is taking a stand against what they see as the barbaric practices of the past. The use of smart phones, cameras and social media were instrumental to organizing a spontaneous, peaceful uprising of this scale.

In a country plagued with crippling pollution and corruption, it is almost unheard of for people to protest the abuse of animals. But the young Chinese generation coming of age now has grown up with the Internet and is taking a stand against what they see as the barbaric practices of the past. The use of smart phones, cameras and social media were instrumental to organizing a spontaneous, peaceful uprising of this scale, and has since led to at least two more public seizures of dog meat trucks, totaling over 3,000 dogs.

As I write this, more stories are pouring in from the volunteers, the majority of which have never protested anything before. At least one activist has been detained by the Yuhong Police Department and is now unable to be located. Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, petitions and websites are cropping up with pleas to the world: help us. We’re outnumbered and need to know we are being heard.

This situation is not being reported by mainstream news in China, as much of China has traditionally preferred to keep the dog meat trade behind closed doors. During the Beijing Olympics, city restaurants were ordered to remove dog meat from their menus in an attempt to placate visitors’ sensibilities. Dog meat has been eaten for centuries, but many Chinese today are vehemently against the eating of dogs and cats, one petition gathering 42,000 signatures against the practice. What is important about this uprising is that the people of China are demanding that the country establish animal cruelty laws. This is a turning point in the history of animal rights for China, as important as Stonewall or Rosa Parks was for gay and civil rights. If China is to move forward humanely, this is a crucial moment of truth.

If eating dogs seems gruesome, their treatment in transit, and subsequent slaughter is absolutely fiendish. Undercover videos show animals skinned alive, thrown onto piles of other dogs while still having the strength to hold their head up before succumbing. The dogs are skinned in front of other dogs to induce terror because of the false belief that the flavor and properties of the meat are enhanced by this. In transit, some dogs give birth to puppies and they are suffocated in the cages, fall to the road or die from the crushing filth. When unloading the trucks, the workers toss the cages off the top of the truck onto the ground, resulting in the dogs’ necks and other bones being broken. They are denied water and food for days while waiting to be killed either by beating or genital electrocution, in the case of the fur trade. Regular people know these facts and are becoming more outspoken because of the dire need for reform. They are becoming activists simply because they are outraged by the very cruel and outlandish way these living creatures are being treated. Good people across China are saying “enough.”

It’s unclear what will happen next for this movement, but growing online support from around the world is gaining momentum. People realize what this could mean for the animals and people of China, as well as animal rights for other countries. The cacophony of voices on the front lines in this heartbreaking scenario are begging for help from people outside of China. Message boards are flooding with postings such as, “I am sincerely begging for help from the international organization that would give us a hand to STOP this disaster happen to our human being’s best friends!” and “Please stop this crime and restore humanity! Let the world know what is happening in China! The volunteers on scene are fighting a very difficult war!” Right now, people in and outside of China can sign a petition to President Xi Jinping to establish animal cruelty laws and ban the dog meat trade. Sharing the activists’ Facebook page and information also helps, as well as contacting local and national press and animal welfare organizations. It is up to all of us to do anything we can to help these brave people, truly underdogs in China’s growing animal rights crisis.

Change: Stop Horrific Dog Meat Trade: Animal Rights Activists Fight to Save Lives of 3000+ Dogs (Warning: graphic!)

Fight for Animal Cruelty Laws in China

Animals Asia Organization – Cat & Dog Welfare

– See more at: http://ultraculture.org/blog/2013/03/15/dog-meat-trade-attacked-by-chinese-activists/#sthash.4XGKlP1g.dpuf

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Blog the Change for Animals is NOT Just for Bloggers!

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Be, Blog and Read the Change for Animals!

On April 15th, join Team BtC and others who care about animals in need. Write about your favorite animal-related cause, read posts, leave comments, and share!

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