TAKING your dog for a walk is normally a leisurely pastime for some but animal rights activist Robert Donkers has taken it to a new level – an 874 mile one.
The 55-year-old, who lives in north London but originally hails from Indonesia, is on a walk from Lands End to John O’Groats accompanied by his three shih tzus (Madeleine, Ronan and Wilbur) and chihuahua (Hannah).
Donkers, who is also an animal healer and massage therapist, is doing the walk to raise awareness and funds to help end “the barbaric” dog-meat trade in south-east Asia.
Festivals such as Yulin, celebrate the torture and consumption of dogs.
It is thought that inflicting pain such as blow torching, bludgeoning and skinning and boiling them alive, makes their flesh taste more tender, and helps those who eat it cope with hot weather.
However, dog-eating festivals represent less than 0.01 per cent of the dog-meat trade as a whole. In China, more than 10 million dogs are killed and eaten every year.
Robert, who will have reached Inverness by the time you have picked up your copy of the Groat, said: “I started campaigning against the dog-meat trade in the far east after seeing a YouTube clip showing the terrible cruelty inflicted on the dogs destined to be eaten.
“As a child in Indonesia, I would hear about family pets being sold or stolen for meat.
“Now I aim to do all that I can to save dogs from that horrible fate. My organisation, Walking to Save Dogs, raises funds to support carefully selected local shelters and projects that rescue dogs from these Festivals and the meat trade.
“The ultimate goal is to put an end to the dog-meat trade through education that dogs are sentient beings, changing legislation, and providing dog-meat traders with alternative means to support their families.”
Robert aims to reach John O’Groats by September 18, although he has already lost one of his canine companions.
He added: “Sadly, Madeleine recently developed an eye problem so has gracefully pawed out.
“She continues to support the rest of the pack from a comfy armchair at home.
“My pets are the voice of millions of less fortunate dogs.
“They have been well-prepared for this task and they love the outdoors.
“We have been walking 12 miles a day on average and hope to finish our walk within a couple of weeks.
“I am touched beyond words at the kindness and generosity of the Scottish people I have met along the trail and look forward to meeting lots more on the way to John O’Groats.”
To follow Robert’s progress and to donate, go to: www.walkingtosavedogs.com or www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/walkingtosavedogs