Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation
Founded in 2010 and based in Los Angeles, the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation was founded by ex-con Marc Ching. The Foundation has come under fire following news reports that Ching not only is failing to help animals, but harming them.
Ching founded AHWF after a long stint in California state prison for felony kidnapping. According to the Los Angeles Times, Ching and cohorts were accused of abducting a man who stole $60,000 in a drug deal, beating him at length in a hotel room. Ching served almost 10 years.
But Ching’s reformation from ex-con into animal lover quickly boosted his brand. Ching built his reputation as someone who would go to Asia to rescue dogs from the Asian meat trade. And he attracted support from celebrities, including Matt Damon and Shannen Doherty, while AHWF collected millions of dollars. Ching also opened the Petstaurant in Sherman Oaks.
But things were not as they seemed, according to multiple sources.
Leaving Dogs to Die
A 2017 Mail Online investigation found that, while Ching was claiming to rescue dogs from Asia, he had in fact left them there to die. “Ching’s high-profile operation deteriorated into farce, and ended with hundreds of dogs suffering slow and excruciatingly painful deaths within days of being rescued,” the paper reported. Instead of being shipped to the US and rehabilitated and given a home, many dogs were pawned off on a Buddhist facility, where they slowly died.
“I was led to believe we were going to rescue the dogs, give them proper medical care and place them in homes. I didn’t know we were going there to pull them out of the slaughterhouse then just dump them,” said one volunteer.
“Those poor dogs just went from one hell to another,” remarked one animal activist.
Paid Torture Allegations
In May 2020, a detailed Los Angeles Times investigation accused Ching of paying to have a dog tortured in Southeast Asia so that he could film it:
Several butchers in Ching’s videos told a Times reporter on a recent visit to the market that they met Ching when he showed up with an interpreter in 2016, saying he wanted to buy dog meat. Wondang said Ching bought four dogs at an inflated price and asked that they be killed in particular ways, including torching one alive, while he recorded video. […]
In interviews with The Times, animal welfare activists based in Europe and Asia said some of the butchers had given them the same account of Ching paying to have the dog burned alive on camera. They said the butchers told them this separately at various times between late 2017 and spring 2018, well before The Times began its investigation.
Animal activists who fight the dog meat trade also questioned Ching’s claims. “He’s basically taking the most vulnerable animals in our society and exploiting them … and it’s disgusting,” said one.
FTC Cracks Down
In 2020, the FTC sent a letter to Ching accusing him of unlawfully marketing products sold by his supplement company. Ching agreed to a settlement that bars him from marketing three products he sells as being effective for treating or reducing the risk of COVID-19.
AHWF has a political affiliate, Animal Hope in Legislation. Ching has made inroads with California state legislators. He appeared at a press conference in spring 2019 with state Rep. Laura Friedman to push a statewide ban on selling fur garments. AHIL was a sponsor of the legislation, which ultimately passed.