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Kindness Ranch rescues four beagles from the illegal meat trade in China

 A beagle stares at the camera with its mouth open and tongue hanging out. It wears a red collar.
The Kindness Ranch
Banjo, one of the beagles rescued by Kindness Ranch on July 4th.

The Kindness Ranch, a Wyoming-based animal sanctuary, recently helped rescue four beagles from the illegal meat trade in China. The dogs were transported to Los Angeles on July 4 and were then brought to the ranch’s headquarters in Hartville, Wyoming.

John Ramer is the Executive Director of the Kindness Ranch, which received national attention last year for helping to rescue 4000 beagles from a Virginia facility. He said the ranch receives many requests for help with rescues. However, they’re forced to reject most of them due to the number of requests they receive.

This opportunity stood out because of the persistence of the rescue’s organizers, The Big Three, an organization that rescues dogs from Asian meat trades and high kill shelters.

The meat trade in China has been outlawed in several provinces, but it still persists. Some estimate that 10 million dogs are killed for human consumption in China each year, despite many organizations within the country itself advocating for an end to the practice.

The Big Three ended up sending multiple messages over Instagram and email before connecting with Ramer. At first, he worried about the logistics of the operation, its cost, and whether the project fit within the ranch’s core mission — rescuing animals who were subject to lab testing. However, he changed his mind after learning that these animals were often subject to lab testing before being sold into the illegal meat market.

Ramer also remembered what the ranch told its patrons.

“We promise the research facilities and the adopters that we work with that when an animal is ready to come to the sanctuary, we'll be anywhere we can within 72 hours,” he said. “It would be hypocritical if we were to not take it on.”

Ramer took the request to the ranch’s board of directors, who quickly agreed to fund the mission, which would cost more than $20,000. The ranch is currently fundraising to recoup the costs.

He talked to the board just a few weeks ago, in mid-June. After that, things quickly kicked into high gear. Ramer used WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, to communicate with a broker in China. The ranch also had to fill out paperwork with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which mandated that the dogs be double vaccinated.

Ramer said the logistics of the plan remained shaky until the last minute.

“I didn't even know if we had everything in place until our U.S. broker, the day of, about two hours before the dogs were ready to be picked up, finally said, ‘Okay, we're good to go.’”

Ramer said he was pleasantly surprised by how well the dogs had been rehabilitated by The Big Three.

“It was like playing with dogs that were born to be companions,” he said.

After keeping them on the ranch for at least two weeks to observe their behavior, he said they will be put up for adoption.

The mission is only one out of the many that Kindness Ranch carries out each year.

“We have a nice revolving door that we try and keep it equal to the dogs coming in as the dogs going out,” Ramer said.

The ranch will be picking up 11 dogs from Texas next week and some facilities are offering to give them up to 60 dogs. Ramer also hints that another international rescue may be on the horizon.

Suraj Singareddy is originally from Atlanta, GA, and is a rising junior at Yale University. He's currently an English major with a minor in computer science. He also helps run the Yale Daily News' podcast department, writes for a science-fiction magazine called Cortex, and likes to do different theatre-y stuff around campus. He also loves to read comics and graphic novels in his free time, and is always looking for book recommendations!

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