The Yulin dog and cat meat festival, an annual tradition in the Chinese city, is notorious for attracting international ire over inhumane practices. Debate over whether dogs and cats are pets or dinner is intense within the countries where they're customarily eaten, too; just check out the passionate dog owners profiled in GlobalPost's short documentary "Dog Thief Down: Vietnam's pet lovers fight back."

But dogs and cats bound for slaughter can serve as poster animals for another controversial practice: the killing of perfectly healthy pets who don't have homes. More than two million animals are euthanized every year in the United States alone. At the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, DC, two cats saved from a meat market in Yulin are now serving as "ambassadors for shelter animals, and for the prevention of cruelty to animals," says Bob Ramin, CEO of the rescue center.

"These animals from overseas draw attention," says David Moore, chief development officer. "People come in, they see these [animals saved from meat markets], but then they get to see all the other animals we have, so it opens up opportunities for even more adoptions." 

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