Marcus Larson / News-Register##Siblings Burgundy, Valentina, Felicity, Ricky, and Naomi Edwards play with their newly adopted dog from Thailand, Justice.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Siblings Burgundy, Valentina, Felicity, Ricky, and Naomi Edwards play with their newly adopted dog from Thailand, Justice.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Justice is happy in her new home.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Justice is happy in her new home.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Justice finds a home, more justice needed, owner says

Her gregarious nature wouldn’t be all so remarkable if it weren’t for her history.

The mixed-breed has endured a nightmare. She’s a rescue from a sadistic food mill in Cambodia, adopted by a McMinnville family after being brought to the U.S.

Now 9 months old, she bears some permanent scars from her ordeal, including scrapes from the rope tied around her neck and bald spots from the beatings she received.

[See below: "Foundation sets out to rescue animals"]

But now that she has a safe, permanent home, she’s eager to press her wet nose against the hand of a new friend, to submit to petting and scratching, and to return attention with unbridled puppy love.

“Justice is so forgiving,” said Michelle Edwards, cuddling the slender black dog. “She wants to be loved, and to love,”  

No one will ever hurt her again, the woman promised. 

Justice arrived in McMinnville in September to join the family, which includes children Ricky, Burgandy, Felicity, Valentina and Naomi. “Justice loves the kids, and they can’t get enough of her,” Edwards said.

The puppy found a ready-made canine family, too, in 11-year-old French bulldog Como, nicknamed “Mama,” and her 7-year-old sons, Dinero and Cash.

“The Frenchies” were at first startled by the pup, who has long legs like a greyhound. Although not very large herself, he stands tall compared to the diminutive black-and-white bulldogs.

But Dinero was soon smitten. And the others, while more standoffish, have gradually begun to accept her as well.

The four canines likes to run around the family’s backyard or sit together in front of the outdoor fireplace on chilly nights.

Justice has discovered the fun of tossing pine cones into the air, or jumping into piles of autumn leaves — especially if one of her human friends is watching. “She enjoys being a dog,” her owner said.

Kit-Kat, the family feline, is less enthusiastic. Justice quickly learned it was best to give the family cat plenty of space.

While she’s always felt an urgency to help, it was accelerated this year when she began learning more about the meat trade in Cambodia, Korea, Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia.

She knew people in some cultures ate meat from dogs and cats.

For a long time, she thought it none of her business. Their culture was just different from hers, she thought. What right did she have to impose her morals on them?

But last winter, she saw a video produced by the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit animal rescue organization based in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Foundation founder Mark Ching had gone to Southeast Asia, posed as a meat trade worker and shot footage of practices that have include deliberate torture.

It turns out, Edwards said, some segments of the population in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and South Korea are supportive of torture. They believe a myth that says torturing animals to the brink of death gives the meat special properties, including the ability to improve male sexual prowess.

“It’s a deep, dark secret,” she said. She described those who profit from the trade “evil thugs.”

But even locals who don’t believe the myth, and perhaps don’t even eat dog and cat meat themselves, often look the other way, she said.

Their countries have no laws against animal cruelty. In many cases, there are no social mores against treating animals as property, rather than living creatures.

“It’s not considered odd or strange or wrong there,” she said.

Edwards said she has watched videos in which even young children kick and cut or burn innocent animals, as if they’re playing.

“Those kids aren’t learning compassion,” she said. That provoked her to ask, “How much worse will they treat animals when they’re adults?”

The more Edwards learned about the Southeast Asian meat trade, the more angry and upset she got. She couldn’t forget the videos Ching had recorded and couldn’t stop worrying about the animals being subjected to torture.

“It opened my eyes and made me question everything I knew,” she said. So she swung into action, posting information about the cruelties.

“I won’t stop fighting for the voiceless and those who need help,” she said. “I won’t stop fighting against cruelty and abuse.”

She became a vegetarian. After she explained her decision to her kids, they joined her.

“I can’t eat anything with a face,” she said. “Even if animals are ‘humanely’ killed, they don’t want to die. They want to live. Killing them is wrong.”

This will be her family’s first vegetarian Thanksgiving. Edwards plans to serve non-meat dishes and lots of vegetables.

She expects the conversation to include a discussion about going vegan, too.

Long before the holidays, Edwards joined Ching’s Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation and began spreading the word about the nonprofit’s work.

In addition to exposing the cruelties, she said, the founder was able to close some of the underground factories and farms. He even helped workers displaced by the shutdowns open their own vegan noodle shops.

Best of all, he was able to rescue some of the dogs. He made sure they received medical treatment and nutrition, then arranged for them to be transported to the U.S.

After clearing quarantine, they were sent to California for spaying, neutering and microchipping. Then they were put up for adoption.

Edwards knew she had to provide a home for one of the rescued dogs.

Justice and Liberty were among the first Ching was able to rescue in Cambodia. Ching decided to keep Liberty himself, as Liberty’s paws had been cut off, so Edwards put in a bid for Justice.

“I lobbied hard for her,” she said. “I knew she was meant to be ours.”

Her track record of caring for strays helped the foundation’s leaders decide she’d provide a wonderful home. And Justice’s wagging tail and happy demeanor proves it was the right decision. 

Edwards and her kids treat the pup like their other pets — as a member of the family.

“You’re just spoiled rotten, aren’t you?” she said, addressing Justice in loving tones. “Yes, you are!

“It’s so hard to discipline her,” she explained. She said she worries that a raised voice might remind her of her terrible ordeal.

But for the most part, she said, Justice seems to have forgotten the bad times. Sometimes she shies away from something, but Edwards isn’t sure whether it’s due to her past or just her preference.

She doesn’t like taking a bath, for instance. Some dogs don’t.

But once,at the McMinnville Dog Park, her reaction made it clear she still harbors fears.

“She was fine in the small area by herself, and she seemed to be fine out with the other dogs,” Edwards recalled. “Then she saw a man throwing a tennis ball with one of those plastic throwers. Her hackles went up, and she barked.”

Justice may have thought the guy was swinging a club. After all, she’s still discovering the joy of toys.


Foundation sets out to rescue animals

Justice, a lovable little puppy, came to McMinnville through the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit based in Sherman Oaks, California.

Founder Mark Ching has made it his mission to spread information about animal abuse in the Southeast Asian meat trade, to shut down abusive factory farms and to rescue dogs from torture and death. His foundation accepts donations from supporters and offers rescued animals for adoption.

More information can be found on the foundation’s website, located at