Yang Xiaoyun, a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher now has 100 new best friends running around on her farm after traveling over 1,500 miles to save them from certain doom at the annual dog meat festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin.
This isn’t the first time Yang has rescued dogs though. The animal lover has been saving furry friends since 1995, when she first rescued a drowning kitten from a river. Only four years later, Yang created her own animal sanctuary called the “Common Home for All,” and continues to rescue every abandoned animal or stray that she encounters. Yang has no full-time staff or volunteers to help her out with the shelter, so she alone wakes up at the crack of dawn to care for almost 1,500 dogs and 200 cats, all out of the kindness of her heart.
“I believe in Buddhism. All lives are equal,” says Yang.
The animals rights activist has gone into debt and has become estranged from her family in the name of her mission, so when she pulled together the $1,100 it took to save these animals from the festival in Yulin, the selfless act drew a lot of attention.
— Schulzb (@Schula1) June 22, 2015
Interestingly, the controversial festival—where some 10,000 dogs are killed and served up to attendees each year—only dates back to 2009, although the tradition of serving dog meat in China does have historical precedence. At the height of its practice, between 202 – 220 AD, dog meat was considered a delicacy, but nowadays most areas of the country do not consume dog meat, and many keep them as pets.
Though if Americans are plenty content to serve bacon for breakfast to one another, whereas Muslims find that amoral, does this mean that serving dog as a dish is inherently more wrong?
Grace Ge Gabriel on CNN argues that because these animals are not livestock, and are not farmed for food, but rather pets or strays who have in most cases been stolen, the festival is condemnable. Many of the dogs rounded up for the festival even have collars. “Imagine your animal,” she says, “The one that you treat as a family member, being stolen.”
Check out these photos of Yang’s epic pet rescue.
This woman is my hero.