PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When John Lekas got an email containing images of torture from the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, he knew he had to take action.
“I just couldn’t believe it, it just stuck in my mind,” he said. “If you go to our website and look at the videos, they’re going to stick in your mind.”
Lekas started the Lychee Project with a mission to stop the festival. On the website, Lekas urges people to follow a link to send a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to make the Dog Meat Festival part of his trade talks with China.
The Portland businessman has placed online ads in The Washington Post and Washington Examiner encouraging people to join his international cause.
“The opportunity is right now, in my view to put an end to this,” Lekas said.
The festival has only been running since 2010, according to Humane Society International. Prior to that year, Yulin had no history of eating dog meat.
This year, the event begins on June 21.
According to Humane Society International: “Many of the dogs and cats are believed to be stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets, who endure being driven for days across China. The animals are crammed into wire cages before reaching the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death.”
Anyone who watches the videos will see the torture the animals endure goes far beyond beatings.
“Anything from blowtorching them to death, boiling them alive, chopping their feet off while they’re still alive — and the worse thing is they tend to get pleasure out of it,” said Lekas, who is the president and CEO of the Leader Capital investment firm.
Lekas is not alone in his fight. Lisa Vanderpump of “The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills” has organized a protest march, pushed an online petition and urged Congress to pass legislation. Last fall, the U.S. House passed the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act.
Lekas thinks the best chance to end the festival is right now with the help of President Trump.
“If we had a practice of taking cows and blowtorching them for a couple hours, chopping their feet off while they’re alive, drilling holes in them for fun, while we drank beer, that to me would be a problem,” he said. “Mankind tries to have some level of dignity.”