By Nelson Groom
An animal lover had a miracle reunion with a pooch she rescued after she went missing on the journey home from a dog meat slaughterhouse in Vietnam.
Amelia Clayton, from Bournemouth, spent nine desperate days searching for Marlin after the dog meat trade survivor vanished from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
The 22-year-old was working at an animal charity in Hoi An when she decided to rescue two-year-old mongrel Marlin, who was destined for death in the South East Asian nation.
But Marlin went missing during the flight layover to London, and the traumatized pooch was only found because Amelia refused to let go of hope throughout the search – and because the public swung into action to help her.
Amazing new video shows the miraculous moment Amelia embraced Marlin atop a grassy hill in surrounding woodland near the airport before taking her home to begin a brighter future in her care.
Amelia said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw her, it was the most emotional moment.
“She came over to me then she just fell on her back shaking. When she let me pick her up all the volunteers that helped came over and everyone was crying.”
It was the end of an emotional rollercoaster for Amelia, who has revealed the crushing moment she realized Marlin had escaped earlier this month – after eight months of planning a way to bring the pup home to the UK.
Amelia said: “I couldn’t believe it. After eight months of planning her return, she was gone.
“My heart stopped and I just started running and screaming her name.
“She’s been regaining some strength and just eating and sleeping since she got home. She’s more and more confident and playful every day.”
When Amelia first found Marlin she was chained to a wall, suffering sever skin conditions and was terrified of humans from sustained beatings.
The student covered the costs of Marlin’s veterinary treatment and transportation through Australia’s Fight Dog Meat charity, and the pair set off from Vietnam to London late last month.
But when Amelia left Marlin with some fellow passengers in the airport for just seconds while she collected her luggage, she returned to find the frightened dog had escaped.
Volunteers launched a social media campaign and soon hundreds of animal rescuers were joining forces to scour the surrounding woodlands.
Australian Michele Brown, the CEO of Fight Dog Meat charity, said it was extremely rare to find rescue dogs that escaped under these circumstances.
Michele said: “I’ve never known a dog meat survivor to be found after escaping because they are so terrified of everyone.”
“This dog was skin and bones when she was found with severe skin issues. She had suffered a lot of trauma in the meat trade and she was very scared of strangers.
“Amelia fell in love with Marlin and couldn’t bear to leave them in Vietnam when the time came to head home.”
Michele said Marlin would have met the fate of being bludgeoned with bats, stabbed with a large knife then cooked over a flame and eaten.
An estimated five million dogs – many snatched from loving homes – are eaten per year in Vietnam, fuelling a booming dog meat industry.
The meat is considered be a source of strength, curing illness and boosting male libido in Vietnam.
But opposition has mounted of late, with growing numbers of animal rights groups shining a light on the illicit yet unregulated industry.
Amelia has thanked the animal rescuers who came to her aid in Paris, as well as Fight Dog Meat for their financial backing.
Amelia said: “I could not have done this without the amazing help from the people of Paris. They were feeding me and keeping me warm throughout this ordeal.
“And of course thank you to Michele and Fight Dog Meat. I owe so much to her.”