The Time My Family Ate a Dog

Wilson, the author, with Oliver, one of the dogs Direct Action Everywhere investigators rescued from Yulin.

Wilson, the author, with Oliver, one of the dogs Direct Action Everywhere investigators rescued from Yulin.

The Time My Family Ate a Dog

by Wilson Wong

I'd always known my grandfather as a kind man. A skinny wraith-like creature, seemingly powered by cigarette smoke, he moved with measuredness and even fragility. It’s hard to imagine this body being capable of violence.

But that’s exactly what it once was.

Many years before, this same body (albeit a younger version) cornered a homeless black dog in a secluded construction site, lifted a blunt tool and bludgeoned her to death.

Her body was my family’s dinner that night.

My family was proud - eating black dogs is considered good luck to we Chinese people.

Every summer then, as the world focuses on the horrors of the Yulin Dog Meat festival, where thousands of dogs are slaughtered, I think about how in some small way, a tiny part of my biological makeup is assembled from the complete disassembly of that one dog. This must just be a tiny part of my history and my body, but it sickens me.

I’ve felt this in a particularly acute way this year as my teammates with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) returned a few weeks ago from a trip to China where they personally witnessed the Yulin slaughter (recently covered on ABC’s Nightline). As DxE’s lead graphic designer and content creator, I was responsible for sifting through endless hours of some of the most horrific footage I had ever seen. I saw dogs trembling together, their coats matted with feces and the dried blood of the dogs killed before them. I saw a worker urinating through the bars of an enclosure onto a dog waiting to be slaughtered. Perhaps most infuriating, I saw people chatting, laughing, and yes, celebrating over the bodies of mutilated dogs.

But then I think about the other parts of my body, and I realize that you don’t need to travel thousands of miles to find awful scenes like this. You could go to your local turkey farm, like we did at Diestel, and find birds packed together so tightly that many are crushed by the weight of others.  Or perhaps you could visit a nearby egg farm, like we did in February, where we found dying hens so diseased and mangled they hardly looked like hens anymore.

In the mountain of horrific footage we collected from Yulin though, there were some redeeming bits: footage of a beautiful dog named Oliver and his brothers being saved. Even better, I got to meet Oliver a few weeks ago, and he now lives in my household. He is a curious, brave creature - easily the bravest of his brothers - but he is still often frightened by me. Perhaps he can sense the violence in my biology.

As redeeming as knowing Oliver is, every time I look at him, I am reminded of what my grandfather did to that black dog. I am reminded of how a human like me murders dogs like him every single day. Lastly, I am reminded that the parts of my body not built from dogs were built from countless other animals my family fed me: fish, chickens, pigs and cows. While these animals may look and sound different, these animals are not unlike that black dog.

These are animals who, like that black dog, were scared, cried for mercy, and did not want to die.

So the next time we point our fingers at Yulin, let’s at least make sure our own hands are clean. And while many will take from this the suggestion that we stop eating animals, there’s much more to do than change what is on our plates. All of us have a voice and the ability to speak out against this violence and demand changes from governments at home and abroad.

All of us can help that black dog and dogs like Oliver, so take action with us against violence.