From Los Angeles Magazine’s article about Marc Ching. (Caption: Marc Ching with PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk in 2017.)

(Warning: Graphic description of a dog being killed.)

There are things you see that you cannot unsee.

The video of a dog being hanged and burned alive in Indonesia, appeared multiple times on my Twitter feed some time back. Because of it, I stopped looking at my feed. I haven’t since. I go on to Twitter via my profile page to post. Although it’s been years since I saw it, I still think about it periodically. I literally have to force myself to push it away. It is that painful. Now, an exposé in The Los Angeles Times suggests that the footage was staged by a con man who paid to have the dog tortured so he could raise money so he could raise money for The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, his animal charity.

This is how The Times describes it:

The videos are horrifying. In one, a black dog hangs by its neck, crying and convulsing as it is blowtorched alive. In another, a white dog dangles from a wooden beam, writhing in pain and terror.

The footage came from a 2016 trip to Asia by Marc Ching, a Los Angeles resident who spent nearly a decade in prison for a violent crime before transforming himself into a prominent leader in the local, national and international animal rights communities…

The gruesome images appear on social media and in an emotional public service announcement that features a roster of celebrities, including Matt Damon, Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, and promotes a charitable foundation that Ching started. The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation has raised millions of dollars for the purpose of rescuing dogs and cats from Asian slaughterhouses.

But a Times investigation has found evidence that contradicts Ching’s claims about the authenticity of some of the most shocking videos and raises questions about his rescue efforts overseas….

Butchers in Indonesia have told The Times that Ching paid them to hang the black dog and burn it to death — a method of killing more cruel than any they say they normally employ — so he could stage the scene for the camera.

If there was no corroboration, and it was just the word of dog meat butchers vs. Ching, I would almost certainly believe Ching even with his felony conviction, as violent as that felony was. (Ching and others abducted, bound, stripped, and beat someone severely when a drug deal went south). Dog meat butchers are violent every single day and those who terrorize animals for profit always deny their own abuse. Indeed, they are the ones who did what they allege Ching paid them to do. But it’s not.

The Times obtained the longer, raw footage of the dog immolation and it appears to contradict Ching’s accounts that he stumbled upon it. In it, the butcher turns to the camera and “In a language local to the area, he asks a question whose English translation is, ‘This is exactly what you want, right?’”

Moreover, animal rights activists, both local and international, also provided evidence that contradicts Ching’s accounts. There is other video evidence that appears to contradict Ching. And there is evidence that he conned people in other ways. For example, The Times also reports that, “Last month, the Federal Trade Commission accused Ching of making false or deceptive claims that an herbal supplement he was selling could treat COVID-19 and that some of his other products could treat cancer…”

He even lied about being in solitary confinement for a long stretch while in prison. In his retelling, he befriends an ant by sharing a crumb of bread because “It was the first time in so long that I had the contact of anybody or anything.” When prison officials contacted by The Times indicated that Ching was never sent to solitary confinement, Ching could only say, “My experience is my experience. And because your definition of confinement differs from mine, that does not make my experience not true.” In fact, it does.

Nonetheless, in a statement defending himself, Ching writes that the allegations stem from a disgruntled, former employee, rivalries between rescuers and animal groups, and that the video footage where Ching says “we have a deal” in discussing “recreating” the abuse of a dog so he could film it was never acted upon: “it was just that, an idea.”

Likewise, the Board of Directors of his nonprofit says it conducted “an independent review” and stated they “unanimously agreed there was no evidence of financial wrongdoing and no evidence of Marc paying for torture that would otherwise not occur…,” a curious turn of phrase since they don’t state he did not pay for torture, only that he did not pay for torture “that would otherwise not occur.” It is not clear if that was intended by the Board, but a lawyer for the group says he never paid to harm animals without including the potential caveat.

But if The Times piece is accurate, in a movement where corruption of mission has long been endemic, and where national groups are often little more than rackets, The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation may have just showed us that there truly is no bottom.

The Los Angeles Times exposé is here.

The photo is from Los Angeles Magazine’s article about Marc Ching and is available here.

The FTC Complaint against Marc Ching for claiming his “supplement consisting mainly of Vitamin C and herbal extracts… is effective at treating, preventing, or reducing the risk of COVID-19” is here.

Ching’s statement and that of his Board of Directors is here.

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