Part Three: That time I flew to China for 18 hours to save 4 malinois from the meat trade

We're leaping ahead a year in the life of malinois ownership right now because this story has a need to be told and shared. I apologize if this is a long one. Set yourself down with a glass of wine. Or perhaps more appropriately a healthy serving of whiskey!

At 7 am on a cold and wet Tuesday morning I curl up on the couch sipping my beautiful home roasted coffee (yes that happens in our house when we don’t mess up our amateur roast) and begin answering the night’s array of SoCalBMR DMS that we’ve received on our Instagram account. I come across a message from someone in China who says they have two Malinois they’re looking to transport and rehome in America. The dogs had been saved from the meat trade and taken directly from the slaughterhouse to a shelter, and were now awaiting an American malinois-loving hero to say, “Yes, I'll adopt them!” I immediately reach out to our rescue department to see what our capacity level is and if we can help these pups out. With our SoCalBMR fosters full, and a waiting list of dogs set to come into the foster program, the next step for us is networking to see if we’re able to connect the young man in China with someone here in the US who can help him out. The whole interaction got me thinking and I furiously began researching the meat trade in China. What was it and what on earth are Malinois doing in China in the first place?

What I found was a country where dogs are captured, stolen or sold to a meat trade where they endure awful disease-ridden conditions, without food or water for days and are then inhumanely (beaten, boiled or torched alive) and often illegally slaughtered and sold to restaurants around the country.

I was appalled. Appalled, disgusted and sickened at the human race and the cruelty of what was happening. And this isn’t just happening in China, but throughout the whole of Asia. I immediately felt compelled to help. And thought if I could help just one dog have a better life, I knew it would be worthwhile. I took all this information to my partner and began literally bombarding him with information and graphic content videos of what was happening in China. I remember one night around 11 pm as we lay in bed looking at Instagram (no judging!), I saw some graphic videos that had been taken earlier that day in China and almost vomited. My partner was ready to murder the man in the video, a feeling I’m sure most people would share should you view the same footage.

Before we knew it we were hashing a plan together for how we could foster, rehabilitate and find a new home for one of these beautiful dogs. That’s right, we the traveling nomadic and homeless couple with one Belgian Malinois were figuring out a way to take on another.

I called our trainer and after a lengthy discussion, he said it really wasn’t a good idea. We also bounced the idea off our friends and family who said they didn’t think it was a good idea either. Finally, after discussing it together once more we confirmed that yes, it probably wasn’t a good idea. But, screw it. We’re that couple that figure things out and just make the craziest situations work. So I filled out an application form and arranged a phone interview with the amazing Aloha McBride, a woman who has been heading up this solo rescue mission and pursuing it tenaciously with her whole heart. She conveyed that we were an exception to her normal adoption policy, and that she would be happy for us to provide a foster and rehabilitation home to a young female malinois that she was bringing to the states in a month’s time. So there we were, reference checked, home checked, mentally checked? Hell no! We were not ready for what was coming.

Just under two weeks before the dogs were due to arrive in the US, some problems cropped up with customs and the initial arrival of the dogs into the USA through the LAX port of entry. For those of you who don’t know about the logistics of importing a dog into the US, there is an insane amount of work involved. Some of the factors to be considered include the type of plane and whether the cargo is air-conditioned, the weather forecast; is it a suitable temperature for the dogs to travel? And that’s just the beginning! There’s customs regulations, health checks, vaccinations, crates, bedding, equipment, transport, etc.

It seemed that the port of entry in LAX had changed their policy and were no longer allowing four dogs per person to arrive into the country. But we had four dogs ready to fly. All of a sudden Aloha needed an extra person to help her transport the dogs from China and I immediately raised my hand. After a quick visa investigation and a few trips to the Chinese Consulate in New York, I was on a plane with a carry-on bag full of dog treats headed for China.