Yang traveled over 1,500 miles and spent more than 7,000 yuan, equivalent to $1,100, to save 100 dogs from certain death. The international community has also been outraged by this year’s festival, held on June 20, using the trending #stopYulin2015 hashtag to proclaim their condemnation of it, and other activists in China have also responded, accusing organizers of unnecessary cruelty and torture.
Horrific images of the dogs being burned alive have been spread across the Internet, though for this story, we’ll focus on the heroic efforts of Yang instead. She’s been rescuing animals since 1995 when she fell in love with a stray she took in, but she hasn’t had an easy time of it. She has taken in nearly 3,000 animals, many of whom she cares for at her rescue center in Tianjin.
Yang’s hard work has reportedly cost her her home and some of her family members, who disapproved of how much effort she was putting into the rescue operation. Although it’s been difficult to fully care for them, Yang says that while the situation is not ideal, they’re better off receiving regular meals with her than alone and at risk on the street – or, in the cages of butchers.
She doesn’t plan to stop here – she told the People’s Daily that she hopes to start a rescue center for dogs in Yulin, noting, “I hope the locals can gradually accept our culture through them and to learn to love dogs.”
Each year as many as 10 million dogs are butchered for meat in China, according to Humane Society International, and thousands for the Yulin festival alone.
Yang makes steamed corn bread twice a day to feed them, which is all she can afford.
She tries to give the animals treats every weekend.
If you’d like to help, according to a blog found here, you can donate to Yang Xiaoyun through her bank via Direct Wire Transfer:
Name: Commercial Bank of China (中国工商银行）
Bank Account City: Tianjin (开户城市－天津）
Bank Account No.: 0302845001009282956
Account Name: Ai Yun YANG （杨爱云）
Xiaoyun Yang’s Cell Phone: 13164073263
Photo Credits (all): Reuters