A 65-year-old retiree is going to extraordinary lengths to help homeless and abused dogs in China.
Yang Xiaoyun has not lived the typical life of a retiree. The former school teacher’s home in Tianjin has become an animal shelter for the dogs and cats she saves. She calls her shelter “Common Home for Stray Animals” and looks after more than 200 cats and around 1500 dogs.
For 14 years she wakes up at the crack of dawn to feed the animals she describes as her “children.” Because she has so many mouths to feed, she prepares her own dog food, which takes many hours to prepare.
Now, she’s set her sights on saving the dogs in Yulin that are destined to die as part of the city’s annual Dog Meat Festival. Despite the financial hardships she faces feeding and caring for all the pets in Common Home, she regularly works with animal activists to stop meat dog trucks and pays the traders to save the animals from being slaughtered for food.
Last year, she saved 360 dogs from the festival. This year, she says she has saved up 50,000 Yuan (approx. $8,000 dollars) for her mission. She must travel 1,652 miles from her home to Yulin, where she hopes to purchase as many dogs as she can and bring them home to her safe house.
She has sacrificed a lot and oftentimes puts her life in danger with her efforts to put a stop to the dog meat trade and to help the stray and abused animals she finds. Yang says she has found strays in streets, in restaurants that serve dog meat, and around agricultural colleges after the animals were used as experiments.
“These (dogs and cats) are all abandoned and abused. A lot are disabled: some have had their eyes scraped out; their mouths sewn shut; others have been scalded by boiling water or their legs have been broken. Now that I’ve come this far, no matter what happens I will never give up on them.”
Update: June 23, 2015
Xiaoyun traveled to the meat markets in Yulin and managed to rescue 100 by paying 7,000 yuan (around $1500) to dog meat vendors, according to Chinese media outlets. She plans to bring all of the dogs to come live with her at her home in Tianjin.
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