One man’s heroic efforts to rescue dogs from being slaughtered in the illegal dog meat trade in China


Each June, the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in which festival goers eat dog meat and lychees. The festival began in 2009 and runs for ten days during which thousands of dogs are reportedly consumed.

During the 10-day festival, dogs are exhibited in metal cages and wooden crates before they are skinned, cooked, and eaten by visitors of the event.

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

Jeffrey and his team spent eight months on the ground in China 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.

Not stopping there, Jeffrey went back to China 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.

No Dogs Left Behind leads the way in the global war against animal cruelty. They operate on the ground in China, fighting on the front lines to rescue dogs from the illegal dog-meat trade. 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. Its 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 their care, No Dogs Left Behind operates sanctuaries in Dayi and Gongyi, China. In these safe havens, these once victimized and exploited dogs receive medical care, nutritional support, and rehabilitation on an ongoing basis.

Here Jeffrey tells his story in his own words and about his passion and dedication to saving dogs from slaughterhouses.

Regarding his historic 2016 and incredibly dangerous rescue effort, he tells Kindness and Hope: “The 2016 Yulin rescue took in totality from June to January. It was one of the most complex rescues to date, as the rescue was conducted with the assistance of multiple organizations. The dogs were split after rescue into two areas.  I built two sanctuaries … with my teams in two weeks. We call them the safehouses and this is where the dogs ultimately went. “

His account of the cruelty that the animals are subjected to is utterly heartbreaking.

“I call it sub-human zombie-type cruelty. It all starts the second that they’re captured and tossed into the butcher cages,” he says. “Using metal prongs they are slammed into cages, stacked on top of each other, and then released into general dog trafficking rooms where they are left to fend for their lives.  Any scrap of food made available to the dog triggers fights, and only the strongest survive. The smaller dogs cover themselves with feces and shiver and shake in the corners, and most likely drink the urine and eat the feces in order to get anything into their stomachs because the butchers rarely feed them because they’re going to be killed.  Right before they are weighed, some butchers – in an attempt to increase the weight of the dog – shove tubes down their throats to push fluid into their stomachs, break their jaws, then clamp their mouths shut.  They then tie wire around their snouts and necks to keep the fluids from coming back up.  They are then tossed into bags and weighed, using the additional fluid to increase their weight to increase the amount the dog will sell for.  And all of this is before they are even slaughtered!   The forms of slaughter vary, with each one worse than the next.  Some are drowned alive, some are boiled alive, some are blowtorched alive, some are skinned alive and then boiled, some are clubbed over the head repeatedly and then boiled … all of this until they’re dead. Then their necks are slit and they’re turned upside-down, draining the blood from their lifeless bodies.  And all the while, the other dogs slated to be butchered listen to the cries of the ones who went before, smell their fear, and see their slaughter.  It is a mental type of torment that is no different than the upcoming physical torture they will endure.  It just lasts much longer. “

An image of a dog subjected to cruelty

Adding: “To say what happens to these dogs in the meat trade is inhumane downplays the severity of it, truthfully.  It is barbaric, sadistic, cold-blooded, and merciless.  It is outright cruel to the animals and reckless to humankind and this planet.  If we continue on this path of recklessly slaughtering animals – and no slaughtering of any animal is humane no matter how you look at it – we will continue to fuel the existence of worldwide pandemics and global climate change.  Dogs are just but one part of this global issue that cries out for compassion, empathy, and sustainability.  That is why we at No Dogs Left Behind are therefore fighting for animal welfare laws all over the world.”   

When asked how you even start to rehabilitate these dogs who have known nothing but abuse, he relays: “It’s an extremely complex situation-by-situation assessment.  Many dogs are so extremely fearful of humans.  They’re particularly afraid of men. We assess the dogs’ temperament, and give correct positive reinforcement rehabilitation: that happens with treats, going in to see the dog, providing a treat, and trying to get closer and closer and closer until they embrace the handler’s touch.  Then we try to get a leash on them, and then we try to get them acclimated to go for walks.  We try to socialize them back into the general population where they play in the parks together with other dogs. Some dogs take a couple of weeks to fully acclimate, some dogs take a couple of months, and some dogs take years to be fully rehabilitated.”

The dogs getting rehabilitated in one of No Dogs Left Behind’s sanctuaries

So far, No Dogs Left Behind has, directly and indirectly, saved thousands and thousands of dogs since 2016.

He explains: “We moved a lot to rescues, and we moved a lot for rescues.  Since 2020 alone, we have transported 300 dogs from China to the United States through Covid and into their forever homes, which has been a feat we are extremely proud of”

“After we confiscate the dogs from the butchers and traffickers, we bring them back to our sanctuaries and give them all the necessary medical treatment they need and then begin the rehabilitation process, ” he says. “At this point, we post photos of them on our No Dogs Left Behind website, and list them as available for adoption.  Our Adoption Coordinators work together with potential adopters who apply to adopt and match them to the dog that would be the best fit.  What is most important is matching the dogs to the right family, not the family to the dog.”

A dog finds a happy new life after being rescued

Covid has made things more difficult for Jeffrey and his team, however.

“At the start of the pandemic, the Chinese government was planning on shutting down our sanctuaries and killing the dogs because they believed the dogs were transmitting diseases,” he says. “I didn’t let that happen. There was an immediate implementation of our emergency response infectious disease protocol. The sanctuaries were locked down to any and all volunteers: nobody was allowed in; nobody was allowed out. At the same time, villages and cities were locked down.  We did not, however, sit idle.  Close to 500 dogs were saved directly and indirectly over Covid.”

His passion to save these animals hasn’t come without some impact upon his psyche, having witnessed first-hand the horrific atrocities that these dogs endure in the dog meat trade.

“The visuals are seared into my brain – something I will never, and can never, forget,” he says.  “There is not a day that goes by that something does not trigger a memory of the horrors of watching a dog being slaughtered and hopelessly watching and being unable to save them.  Those dogs, their fearful eyes, their screams, and the smell of their death, invade my dreams and my daily thoughts.  I see the dogs being slaughtered, and even as they’re being slaughtered, they are still wagging their tails begging for compassion as they’re being beaten and tortured to death.  These dogs – the ones I couldn’t save – haunt me.  

“I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from my time in China at these slaughterhouses and festivals,” he explains. “I have been hospitalized for a rapid and irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, extreme hypertension, and anxiety.   My heart races, my body shakes, and panic sets in the inside of me.  I never know what will trigger it.  But it is something I live with now.  It is part of me.  But it will not stop me from going back and seeing it again because it means I will save more dogs. “

He adds: “Money can buy a dog, only time can heal wounds, love will finally rescue a dog. I can rescue dogs from being tortured. I can treat them and rehabilitate them.  But at the end of the day, a dog isn’t truly rescued until they get into a home, and they are given that unconditional love: that is what finally rescues these dogs. The most rewarding part of my life is intercepting a dog trafficking truck or shutting down a dog trafficker or slaughterhouse … confiscating their inventory and getting the dogs into their forever loving homes.  That is what makes me feel like Superman.  And I am ready to go back and fight back and attack again, especially as Yulin approaches.”

Despite international outrage over the Yulin Dog Festival, it will still go ahead and is slated to begin on June 21, and the pressure is really on Jeffrey and his team to save as many dogs as possible.

“Funding is incredibly critical,” he says. “We need to evacuate as many dogs as possible to make room for other survivors that we will rescue, directly and indirectly. This will depend on how many dogs we can evacuate from China to America. It could be 300 dogs, it could be 100 dogs … it could be 1,300 dogs.  The biggest interception to date was 1,300 dogs that were heading to Yulin and were saved by No Dogs Left Behind’s brave activists.  Yulin lasts for 10 days and thousands of dogs are slaughtered.  But dogs continue to be slaughtered every day, 365 days a year to the tune of an estimated 10 to 20 million a year.  “

Adding: “We are looking to China to lead the way for change by enacting and enforcing the first of (hopefully) many animal welfare laws around the world that will finally put a stop to the reckless slaughtering of animals.”

No Dogs Left Behind goes beyond rescues, doing whatever it takes to heal the physical and emotional scars these animals suffer and to find them their forever-loving homes.

Visit No Dog’s Left Behind’s website to learn more about the organization and how you can help.  Click here to donate, to help Jeffrey and his team prepare for their rescue operations at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and click HERE  for happy ever after endings for animals Jeffrey and his team have saved from being slaughtered. 




Article by melissa

Melissa Myers is a trained journalist working in London and New York. She worked for national newspapers in the U.K. as a celebrity journalist and was the News Director of In Touch magazine in the U.S. In 2017, she focused on making a difference in the world and launched her website Melissa also builds websites for various clientele and runs social media campaigns for non-profits.