I know there’s been a lot of discussion on this blog recently about dog meat. As with any battle for a more humane future, the campaigning and advocacy work to end the dog meat trade requires persistence and strength of heart, which can require years of work. At times, the fight for a more humane future for some of the animals most in need in the world, can feel overwhelming. But there are signs of real progress.

One of the latest rescues—of 126 dogs from an illegal slaughterhouse in Shaanxi’s Fufeng County in north central China—is a shining example of the increased unity between animal advocates from Vshine (Humane Society International’s partner group in China), local activists, law enforcement and government, working in concert to stop this gruesome, unjust trade. Vshine asked HSI to release the images and video that advocates and its staff members took inside the illegal slaughterhouse to help shine a global spotlight on the horrors of the dog meat trade.

German shepherds, Labradors, huskies and golden retrievers were among dogs found alive at the slaughterhouse.

As advocates hurried to comfort the emaciated golden retrievers, German shepherds, huskies and other dogs, many of whom were eager for attention, they also glimpsed a pile of dog collars in the corner, which speak to just how urgent such rescues are. These collars are disturbing proof that pets—likely stolen from homes and streets many miles away—are often being killed for meat. Thankfully, the dogs saved from this illegal slaughterhouse are now being cared for by local shelters.

“The dogs we found alive were whimpering and distressed but very happy to see us,” Ziyang Huang of Vshine told HSI. “The amount of pet collars we found was really shocking, and the gentle, friendly nature of these dogs tells us probably most of them were once part of a home and somehow ended up at that terrible place. That’s just one of the reasons why we campaign to end this cruel dog meat trade.”

Most people in China don’t eat dog meat, and there is growing opposition to the dog meat trade in the country, especially as concern for animal welfare grows. Although there is no nationwide legislative ban on dog meat across China, much of the trade relies on criminal activity and law breaking such as theft, illegal slaughter and breaches of animal transport and quarantine laws. Despite this, there is unfortunately no unified, proactive response by law enforcement. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge the good work of police forces and law enforcement agencies like those in Xi’an and Fufeng where a concerted crackdown on the trade has resulted in hundreds of dogs being saved, including from this slaughterhouse which was closed down. In the city of Dalian—where Vshine is based—the police also have a zero-tolerance approach to the dog meat trade, which has resulted in the city being virtually dog meat free, and instant action being taken if dog meat activity is reported. These police forces act as shining examples of how this brutal trade can be stopped using existing laws if the authorities stand ready to act.

Even though dog meat is banned in many places across Asia—including in mainland China’s cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai—an estimated 30 million dogs are still killed for meat per year across the continent. We will be there for advocates, governments and law enforcement to help support as many of these rescues as possible until the dog meat trade finally belongs to the annals of history.

You can join us in taking a stand against the dog meat trade.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.