Local animal lover and founder of the Facebook page ‘Pets Lost And Found Fermanagh,’ Caolan Maguidhir has recently returned from his trip across the world helping to rescue dogs from China’s meat trade.

Caolan (26) from Enniskillen, travelled with a team including David Foster from County Antrim and Sharon Warnock from County Down, to Harbin, China, where they spent two weeks working with the voluntary organisation Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors to rehabilitate traumatised dogs that had been saved from a horrific fate.

Talking to The Impartial Reporter about his experience, Caolan explained that the most challenging part of the trip was trying to understand why anyone would inflict so much pain and suffering on an animal.

He said: “When I seen first-hand how they were treated it made me sick to the stomach but gave me an even bigger drive and determination to make a difference and help to save as many dogs as possible over the two weeks.”

Explaining that many of the dogs that had been rescued had sustained horrific injuries and disabilities, Caolan added that each had their own personality and were “grateful for that second chance.”

On return from their mission, Caolan and the team flew a number of the rescue dogs home with them, with two of the dogs, Scoop and Sebastian, being re-homed in Northern Ireland.

“We brought nine in total back home including Scoop the toy poodle that David rescued last year after literally scooping him up in his arms after rescuing other puppies that were saved when their mother was killed and Sebastian the shepherd-cross that was saved when a meat truck bound for Yulin was stopped,” Caolan told this newspaper.

“The highlights of my experience were definitely meeting all the adopters and fosterers at the airport and watching the dogs who we’d spent two weeks working with and getting to know make their journey onwards towards home and a new life,” he added.

During his time working with the dogs in Harbin, Caolan shared that there was one particular dog, called Jenifer, that he fell in love with. Although Jenifer didn’t have a pre-arranged home, Caolan was determined to find her one.

“As soon as I met her I thought, ‘somehow you’re getting outta here!’ When I got back to the hostel, because of the eight-hour time difference, I spent all-night messaging every contact I have back home for help.”

Just as Caolan thought he had exhausted all options and was starting to give up hope, he received a message from Anna Minns from Derrygonnelly.

On hearing from Anna, Caolan said that his “heart leapt” and after exchanging messages and having a face to face meeting, she offered to sponsor Jenifer’s entire transport costs. Explaining to this newspaper why she decided to support this cause, Anna said: “I have done this in memory of my son Michael, who passed away 12 years ago, aged 19. He was a huge animal lover. Some of his friends in England had a whip round and we’d been trying to think of what to do for him.When I saw what was happening in China, I knew exactly what to do.”

Although Jenifer’s transport costs from China have been kindly sponsored, she still requires a home. Caolan said: “We have been tasked with finding her the perfect home before the end of April, with someone that will give her the time, attention and love she so desperately needs and will appreciate her journey from where she came from to where she is now.”

For more information on the work of Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors visit their website www.harbinshs.com.