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John Lekas has retained former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith to lobby Congress on the issue

CONTRIBUTED - Loretta Smith showing Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley picture from a previous Chinese dog meat festival in Washington DC.

A Portland businessman and animal rights activist has hired former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith to lobby Congress to help ban the slaughter of dogs for their meat.

John Lekas got involved in the issue when he received an email containing images of dogs being slaughtered at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China. This year's event begins on Friday, June 21.

Lekas started the Lychee Project with the goal of stopping the festival. On its website, he urges people to follow a link to send a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to make the Dog Meat Festival part of his trade talks with China. Lekas has also placed online ads in The Washington Post and Washington Examiner encouraging people to join his international cause.?

"The opportunity is right now, in my view to put an end to this," Lekas told KOIN 6 News.

KOIN 6 NEWS - An image of John Lekas and his dog on KOIN 6 News.

Since losing her race for the City Council last year, Smith has opened a consulting firm called A Portland businessman and animal rights activist has hired former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith to lobby Congress to help ban the slaughter of dogs for their meat.

John Lekas got involved in the issue when he received an email containing images of dogs being slaughtered at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China. This year's event begins on Friday, June 21.

Lekas started the Lychee Project with the goal of stopping the festival. On its website, he urges people to follow a link to send a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to make the Dog Meat Festival part of his trade talks with China. Lekas has also placed online ads in The Washington Post and Washington Examiner encouraging people to join his international cause.?

"The opportunity is right now, in my view to put an end to this," Lekas told KOIN 6 News.

Since losing her race for the City Council last year, Smith has opened a consulting firm called Dream Big Communications. She recently met with members of Oregon's congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, to discuss the issue. Most of the House members signed a June 19 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to bring the issue up in trade negotiations with countries where the sale of dog meat is legal. They include U.S. representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio.

"We must send a strong message to all nations that we will not stand by while the brutal and inhumane treatment of dogs and cats continues. We believe that through diligent diplomatic pressure, it can be stopped," the letter says.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story here.

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