CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Three Labrador retrievers were expected to arrive at O’Hare Airport Tuesday night after being rescued from a dog meat breeder in China.

The Los Angeles-based non-profit Rescue + Freedom Project saved the dogs from being sold to restaurants.

Shannon Keith, president and founder of the group, told WBBM that it’s “shocking” that this type of thing still goes on. Most Chinese people are against using dogs for food, but activists are afraid they’ll be harmed if they interfere, she said.

The three dogs bound for Chicago have been abused their entire life and were being beaten even while the group was negotiating to rescue them.

They’re still safe but have a long way to go once they get into foster homes.

“They don’t know what words mean, they don’t know what bodily reactions mean,” Keith said. “They’re going to go potty in the house for a very long time. They’ve never been walked on a leash, they’ve never seen a tree or a toy and they’ve never been held or caressed with a kind touch.”

She said with the right care in Chicago, the animals can eventually be placed in forever homes.

“We’re trying to just raise awareness of this issue and save as many as we can.”

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