Clover a sweet golden retriever loves to explore the rolling countrysides of England, plays with all the toys he wants and snuggles into a warm, cozy bed with his mom at night. He has lots of best friends like chickens, and he loves playing with other dogs, too.
Clover just loves the life he is living compared to the horrors of his former life.
It was only a year ago that Clover lived on a dog meat farm in China. The dogs were being raised to be slaughtered for food. He days were spent inside a small cage with little food or water. All of the dogs had no choice but to eat the decaying remains of dogs who had died from the horrible conditions.
It is unknown as to whether he was born on the farm, or if he had been someone’s pet who was stolen, both of which are commonplace in China.
According to Animals Asia, an average of 10 million dogs is slaughtered for food each year in China. They are forced to watch other dogs be bludgeoned to death or thrown alive into boiling water for sale at a market or restaurant, all of which is legal in the country. The country’s most infamous instance is the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which celebrates dog meat each June.
Clover was starving and sick at only a year old. There was no light in his eyes, and it was only a matter of time before he would be killed at a slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse in Changchun, China is one of the country’s largest hubs for dog meat. Clover was stuffed into a tiny metal crate and transported there.
However, in July 2016, a group of Buddhist monks, who often negotiate with dog meat traders at markets to surrender the dogs to them, had been given ownership of Clover and some other dogs. A Chinese activist affiliated with UK’s Rushton Dog Rescue and arranged veterinary care so Clover could be treated for his long list of ailments. The group had just begun their “Darkness to Light” initiative to rescue dogs within the Asian meat trade. Clover was their first mission.
Clover slowly recovered from starvation, pneumonia, manage and canine distemper. Skye Wardle, of Gloucester, England, saw posts about him and instantly fell in love.
“We had always heard about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, but I don’t think we were aware dogs were killed in China every day all year round before that,” Wardle said. “My mum had always wanted to adopt one of these dogs, and when we saw Clover, we just thought he was perfect. We’ve had goldens our whole lives.”
Before they even met him he was a part of the family.
Clover came to the Wardles home just in time for Christmas in 2016! He was met with a stocking completely stuffed full of toys to celebrate the occasion.
“He just went crazy,” Wardle said. “I don’t think he’d ever seen a toy before and he absolutely loved them from the very first day.”
Despite what he endured at the farm, he has nothing but love for everyone. Clover’s sweet demeanor is evident in everything he does, from hanging out with the family’s chickens to snuggling at night.
“We were actually shocked at how much of a golden retriever he was,” Wardle said. “He fit into family life so quickly — he even loves our chickens. He’ll sit with them so patiently and they’ll peck at his food bowl trying to steal a bit of food. He is such a gentle and sweet boy.”
Wardle has connected with the owners of other dog trade survivors like Clover through social media, including Angel, a Belgian Malinois who was rescued from the same slaughterhouse.
“She lives nearby in Oxford,” Wardle said. “Clover just loves to meet up with her to play. His favorite thing is just running around outside.”
Wardle spends a lot of time educating people about the industry and attending protests for reform at the Chinese embassy in England.
When Clover is at the dog, he often wears a brown bandana that reads “dog meat trade survivor.”
“It’s an amazing conversation starter for sure,” Wardle said. “When they meet him and see how sweet he is, it’s like this really scary problem is suddenly approachable. People are brought to tears and ask us so many questions.”
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