In recent years, China’s growing wealth has led to a boom in the pet market. This, however, also caused an increase in the number of stray animals, with people abandoning the furry creatures when they do not want to or cannot care for them anymore. In turn, breeding among strays has further increased the population of street animals. In Shanghai, stray animals (most of them dogs) that get picked up by police usually end up in metal cages and are often euthanized soon after.
Looking to give these beloved animals a new life, Buddhist monk Zhi Xiang has been rescuing stray animals for more than 27 years, providing them a home at his ancient monastery or at a shelter he runs in Shanghai. Xiang now has nearly 8,000 dogs to feed and care for, a few hundred of which will eventually be resettled in Europe or North America.
The 51-year-old has been rescuing animals — mostly dogs but also cats and other strays — since 1994. “I have to rescue them because if I don’t, they will die for sure,” Xiang said.
Working together with a team of volunteers and a few workers, Xiang keeps several hundred dogs at his Bao’en Temple, which also hosts a room filled with 200 cats, along with several chickens, geese, and peacocks. As reported by ABC NEWS, he keeps mostly sick dogs at the monastery, while the rest go to a bigger facility, where they have the chance to get adopted.
Since 2019, Xiang has also been actively finding homes abroad for some of the strays. English-speaking volunteers are using social media to reach an international audience, and so far, about 300 dogs have been placed in the United States, Canada, and a number of European countries.
Image source: AFP