Hola, Salut, Ni hao, Shalom, Kon’ nichiwa, Hello, Annyeonghaseyo, Hej, Bog, Marhaba, Sah-wahd-dee khrup/kah, Marhaba, Hujambo, Zdrahvdz-vuee-tyeh

Some people will be thinking why on earth is Victoria starting this blog with lots of hellos in different languages when she is trying to help feed and protect dogs and cats in China? I want you all to know, there is no ‘me’. I am just the ‘face’ of a group of people who work (unpaid and from the heart) tirelessly to help Madam Yang and her dogs and cats, and who also want changes in the dog/cat meat laws in China.  Many people from all over the world have taken this issue to their heart and that is why I say hello to you all.  I apologise if I have not added your hello to the introduction but we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.  It is with great sadness to report (but not unfamiliar to those of you in the animal rescue world) that liars and cheats have tried and succeeded on many occasions, to take over the work of real animal activists on the ground and claim them as their own achievements.  If they have been thwarted in that event then they resolve to defamation and attacks via social media on the internet.  Alas that brings us to the defamation of Madam Yang,  a 68-year-old woman doing her best against all the odds.

vet with Yang 2
Vet administering medication to one of Mrs Yang’s rescued dogs, June 2016
vet with Yang
Vet administering medication to one of Mrs Yang’s rescued dogs, June 2016

She is not perfect.  Her animals need help and she is the first to admit this.  A charity called No To Dog Meat (World Protection For Dogs and Cats in the Meat Trade) decided to take up the challenge and help this rescuer in China.  Everyone clap.  Bloody brilliant. Who would not contribute to such a cause?  £100,000+ was raised and collected, and that should have seen those animals living in better circumstances than a cooking pot.

So why is it that Mrs Yang did not receive 90%+ of the kind donations collected by No To Dog Meat? Why has it instead been left to myself and a small group of dedicated passionate animal lovers to do all we can to help feed and vet Madam Yang’s dogs?

(Let it also be noted that an urgent appeal to the ‘charity’ for medical and vet expenses at one stage was totally ignored.)

To help Madam Yang and the animals she saved from Yulin 2016 and elsewhere, my group organised a paypal account (donate@friendsofyang.com) on the 15th June ’16 as a fundraiser.  In this short time, and thanks to everyone’s support, we have arranged a vet to visit Madam Yang’s animals who administered appropriate medication and did a sweep of all those animals in Madam Yang’s shelter that required further help.  Madam Yang felt confident enough to order more medications for her animals knowing that donations made through my group would be paying the vet directly and she would not be left with the heartbreaking choice to either pay for vets or to pay for animal feed. The vet will be visiting Madam Yang’s dogs on a weekly basis until we are up to a point when less visits will be required as the dogs get healthier. My group is elated that at last Madam Yang has put her trust in us, after being so horribly betrayed before.

We have been publishing all proof of donations/expenses on our Facebook page, however, it was pointed out to me before setting up the paypal account, that a YouCaring fundraiser was instantly transparent and therefore more suited for our purpose. We took that advice onboard and opened a YouCaring fundraiser.

It then came as a huge shock to find that the fundraiser was arbitrarily closed by Ellie from YouCaring because she and her team decided that my team giving 2,000 dogs medication is ‘not a good fit’ for the YouCaring site based on, among other unfounded defamation, the lie that Madam Yang sells dogs back to the meat trade (which we can dispute, and will).

Email from Ellie at YouCaring:

Email from Ellie

My reply to Ellie at YouCaring:

reply to You Caring

Apart from this being false information, it simply does not make economic sense to buy the dogs from butchers at an inflated price to then sell back to the restaurant owners at a loss. I will be asking Ellie and her team for proof of her accusations but, in the meantime, there you have it.  Ellie and her ‘YouCaring’ team unfortunately did not do their research and, because of their failings, my group now has to look elsewhere for a new platform to raise money to help 2,000 animals.

In response to the YouCaring. fundraiser being taken down, I have opened a new donation site with GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/HelpMrsYangAnimals and all the latest information on how to donate and the latest news about Madam Yang can be found at https://www.facebook.com/friendsOY

Those of you that have perspective, foresight, and intelligence, that can see past the intricate deceit that is all too prevalent in ARA social media, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your trust and belief that we can help in some small way, to the best of our ability. And thank you to everyone who has donated.

 

Trials and Tribulations

young-madam-yang

Where to begin?  Since writing my last blog on the updates of the events happening in Madam Yang’s life it has been a busy and in some cases a very emotional 3 and a half months. As reported in my last blog my small but dedicated team of volunteers called FriendsofYang  whose Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/friendsOY/?fref=ts reported that vets were attending to the animals Madam Yang saved from the horror of the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin 2016.  We were all delighted and elated that this lone woman with just two Chinese volunteers entered the dogmeat market and without any fuss or ceremony saved approximately 450 dogs and cats from certain death.  The rescue was professionally carried out and all preparations for the animals welfare was arranged in advance for their journey to Tianjin.  Gallons of water was taken to aid the animals on their arduous journey (it is extremely hot in Yulin in June) and the animals had many bathroom stops to quench their thirst and to be sprayed with a fine mist of cooling water.  They were also provided with shade by netting which was placed above the animals cages and to the sides.netting-above-the-rescues-yulin-2016 dogs-saved-at-yulin-2016Madam Yang unhappily reported that many of the animals were far too sick/and/or distressed to eat but at least they were taking on fluids. 

After 2/3 days on the road Madam Yang arrived at her shelter with her new wards.  Not surprisingly Madam Yang was shattered but she had no time to rest.  Animals needed vetting, separating and settling into their new home.  FriendsofYang got to work immediately.  We organised a fundraiser through YouCaring and dedicated all our time promoting it.  Donations started coming in but after a period of two short weeks I received the devastating news that Ellie from YouCaring decided to close down the fundraiser.

ellie-closing-down-fundraiser (Please note the link provided by Ellie is a BLOG and not a New York Times article)

To have the fundraiser closed at such short notice knowing so many animals needed our help was most upsetting to say the least.  I responded by sending this email to Ellie:

reply-to-ellie-closing-down-fundraiser

Ellie’s reply to my email:

elles-second-email

I was completely baffled that a donor had complained about the fundraiser that had been active for less than 2 weeks.  I wanted more clarification and sent this email in reply:

final-email-to-ellie-of-youcaring

Four months later and I am still waiting for the evidence. 

FriendsofYang brushed themselves down after this serious blow and started a new fundraiser with Gofundme.  I am sure the person/people who instigated the closing down of the YouCare fundraiser would also contact our new site, but so far they have been fruitless in their attacks and at the time of writing this blog the Gofundme fundraiser is still active.   Big sigh of relief!  However, this was posted on twitter a few days ago (which is a fake account used by No To Dog Meat supporter/spokesperson Alice Susan Harding) threatening to get the Gofundme fundraiser taken down.  Please note the petition on Change.org has not been taken down and the link if you wish to sign is at the bottom of this blog.

alice-on-twitter

So now we had a fundraiser up and running again so our immediate concern was getting vets to visit the poorly animals saved at this years Yulin.  Donations sent to us by kind donors made this a reality and I personally cannot thank them enough. All the animals in Madam Yang’s care had full bellies compliments of our Japanese partners, and within days dogs and cats were being seen to on a regular basis by a local vet.

FriendsofYang were delighted with the progress made in helping these poor creatures, but just when we were all feeling relaxed and happy in the certainty that all the animals were being well cared for, disaster struck.  Tianjin was hit by torrential storms; Madam Yang’s shelter was flooded and major damage was inflicted on its buildings.  To say that my team were devastated when we received the pictures from Madam Yang of the damaged caused by the storm is an understatement.  This certainly was a test of Madam Yang’s resilience and we could not let her down in her hour of need.

My team put out a plea for volunteers to help Madam Yang clean up her shelter but everyone in the vicinity and beyond was in the same dire situation.  As days went on and more news filtered through it became clear what a dreadful natural disaster this was; people had lost their lives.  But Madam Yang soldiered on like she always has and started organising the clean up doing most of the work herself as well as physically searching for dogs that had escaped when a wall collapsed.  Luckily animals know when they are well looked after and many came back on their own accord.  FriendsofYang had to make the heartbreaking decision to stop further vets visits and concentrate on funding the shelter itself.  Sadly we did not have enough funds to continue both.  So far we have managed to send payments for 2 new roofs (the roofs at Madam Yang’s shelter are huge), build a small pathway where Madam Yang slipped once, and we are now in the process of providing funds for a third roof. 

Madam Yang is eternally grateful (as we all are at FriendsofYang) to the support shown by the general public not just in monetary terms but in the wonderful messages of love sent to her via the Facebook page and in pm’s.  We have so much more to do, this is an ongoing project and none of this can be achieved without your help.  Please visit our Facebook page and share our posts.  All donations, no matter how small, are gratefully received and can be made via paypal at: donate@friendsofyang.com or at: https://www.gofundme.com/HelpMrsYangAnimals   Please also sign this petition: https://www.change.org/p/investigate-the-uk-registered-charity-known-as-no-to-dog-meat-ntdm-aka-the-world-protection-of-dogs-and-cats-in-the-meat-trade  Thank you all so very much from the bottom of my heart. 

Madam Yang, Yulin 2016 and Her Appeal for Help

new shelter 6

Madam Yang’s new shelter

 

Madam Yang will be making the arduous journey from her home town of Tianjin to Yulin, China, on the 16th June 2016 with the main aim of lobbying the Chinese authorities there to try and stop the ‘Dog Torture Festival’ from taking place this year. However, reports coming out from various sources in Yulin clearly show the horror has already begun. It has also been reported that the Chinese authorities do not take kindly to being pressurized by foreign influences to stop what they feel is an internal affair. To stand any chance of closing down the dog meat trade in China, especially in Yulin, it has to come from the Chinese people themselves. That is why supporting those charities and those individuals in China who are trying to end this abhorrent trade will have more effect than those who are not connected to China in any way whatsoever. Madam Yang, now well known to the citizens of Yulin, is the epitome of how tenacious indigenous Chinese activism could bring to an end the annual event of dreadful cruelty at Yulin.  Hopefully, the trade in dogs and cats for human consumption, that goes on year round in Yulin,  will also come under scrutiny by the local authorities if they can be persuaded to ban the infamous Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.new shelter 11

Madam Yang’s new shelter

 

Madam Yang who is struggling to keep her shelter and dogs afloat has come under the most horrendous attacks and defamation on social media. While foreign ‘charities’ are asking quite freely for donations to help save dogs in Yulin, Madam Yang, a Chinese citizen, is too afraid to ask for help for fear of further repercussions that could harm her and her dogs. To date, the UK charity known as ‘No To Dog Meat’ is still hoarding Madam Yang’s money in their bank account, refusing to give her the remaining monies (on last viewing the fund had accumulated more than £92,000). The charity has recently hidden Madam Yang’s appeal so a running total can no longer be seen.  There is a petition for anyone to sign if they feel this matter needs investigating and can be found at:  https://www.change.org/p/investigate-the-uk-registered-charity-known-as-no-to-dog-meat-ntdm-aka-the-world-protection-of-dogs-and-cats-in-the-meat-trade

 

More pictures of Madam Yang’s new shelter

 

I have received many requests asking me how can people donate to Madam Yang and with a heavy heart I have to say Madam Yang informed me she does not want to handle donated money. When I visited Madam Yang in March of this year it was very clear that some of her dogs needed treatment for skin problems and of course all the animals needed a vet visit to bring them up to date with vaccinations etc. Dogs fed on extremely poor quality food, when money is tight, will be far more prone to skin complaints and illness and I worry that if Madam Yang is too scared to ask for help her wards will suffer further. Madam Yang has been informed of the many kind people who wish to donate and she has given me permission to collect donations on her behalf. Madam Yang however wants all the money to go to pay for services directly, such as vets and pet food suppliers, she under no circumstances wants to receive money.  I have informed Madam Yang that I will send her a weekly update on how the fundraiser is going and that I will be visiting her again in Tianjin to make all the necessary arrangements to pay for suppliers direct.

I hope you will join me in supporting Mrs Yang’s dogs to enjoy a better quality of life that can only realistically be achieved with a determined plan of ongoing aid.  If you wish to donate to Madam Yang and her animals please send to: donate@friendsofyang.com  I have set up a separate bank account to receive the money  which is linked to this PayPal account both are in my name and publication of proof of the income and expenditure will be made on a regular basis.new shelter 7

More work is still needed at the new shelter, but Madam Yang is definitely on the right track

Yulin Dog Torture Festival 2016

This past year has gone by so quickly and here we are again facing yet another horror show which will be played out in Yulin, China, and is scheduled to start on 21st June 2016.  At least a thousand dogs and cats (numbers provided by Animal Asia:  https://www.animalsasia.org/intl/media/news/news-archive/chinas-yulin-dog-meat-festival-what-we-know.html)  will be mass slaughtered in the most horrific ways possible to satisfy those who wish to eat their meat.

In past years as many as 10,000 to 15,000 dogs have been killed at the Yulin festival which takes place to mark the summer solstice. Today, thankfully that number is a lot lower but even one dog killed this way is one dog too many. Dogs will be stunned by a sharp blow to the head with a hammer like object (the lucky few will be killed outright) then thrown into a special machine like a tumble dryer with sharp knives to defur the animal or they will be blow torched.  Others will be electrocuted or hung. After all of this the dog is then placed in a large pot of boiling water to be cooked while the dog may still be alive.

Some believe the animal is made to suffer as much as possible to produce adrenaline which is claimed by the butchers to make the meat taste better and to also have some medicinal benefits for the consumer. Others believe that inefficient killing methods results in a lingering death for some animals. These barbaric acts are done in front of other dogs and cats waiting the same fate and it has been documented that some animals are physically sick with fright as it is pulled from its cage to be slaughtered.  What is even worse many of these animals will be stolen pets from loving homes.

For one woman this will be her third year of facing those horrors for real and her name is Yang Xiaoyun, known to most people simply as Madam Yang.  Madam Yang has been saving dogs from the dogmeat trade and from the streets of China for over 20 years. She will be leaving her home town of Tianjin for the arduous journey to Yulin the 16th June to first lobby the Yulin Town hall to try and stop the dog torture festival from even taking place.  If that fails then she will enter the brutal dog meat market herself and try and save as many innocent lives as possible.

Madam Yang will be paying to rescue dogs from this year’s Yulin festival by money given to her by kind neighbours, friends and family. She however has stated to me that she would rather not handle any donations herself after she was (and still is) subjected to the most vile hate campaign against her started by the charity No To Dog Meat.  This charity have raised over £93,000 using Madam Yang’s name and so far have only given her a fraction of that money.  In their efforts to keep what is rightly hers No To Dog Meat started a vicious online campaign to defame Madam Yang.  The pressure became too much at one point that Madam Yang toyed with the idea of giving up animal rescues altogether.  But like most people with a burning desire to help the unfortunate dogs and cats in China she could not turn her back on them.  And here she is again, facing most people’s nightmares for real.

Madam Yang asked me to join her to document how her time in Yulin will be spent and to follow her journey back to Tianjin with her wards, but with a heavy heart I had to decline due to financial restrictions.  Madam Yang has said she will try and keep me up to date with all that is happening with her in Yulin but I realise this may not be possible due to the task in front of her and the mental strain it will undoubtedly put upon her. I am hoping to revisit Madam Yang in the not too distant future but until then I wish her a safe journey and every success in lobbying the town hall to get this vilest of ‘festivals’ banned forever.

Meeting Madam Yang : 

Madam Yang’s dogs : 

Dogs that will be slaughtered for the dinner table

Madam Yang’s New Shelter

mmexport1460955630765

mmexport1460955798525

DOWNLOADEDMRS YANGS USD BANK ACCOUNT JUNE2014 to AUG2015
Bank account no: 0302845001009282956 print-out June 23 2014 – August 28 2015 (printed March 15 2016)

My name is Victoria Donna Charlotte. My enemies will know that already. They will probably also know my name was Bowen before I divorced. They probably know where I live, that I worked for the Ministry of Defence,  how to hack my computer and know the shelters I help. They probably even know how to target my family if I continue in my voluntary work especially if I return to China. You are probably wondering why I am starting a blog about Madam Yang’s new shelter with such an emotive introduction. I will explain. Madam Yang has many enemies. Those that defend or try to help Madam Yang and her animals will attract those out to defame Madam Yang and will be attacked online ferociously and without mercy. These attackers are not one bit interested in helping animals or their welfare; their main object is money. And charity is big business for the unscrupulous which is aided by the inaction of those that should be overseeing the process.

For those of you who have read about Madam Yang and have been moved by her unwavering resolve to help abandoned dogs in Tianjin, and those poor souls due to be horrendously butchered at the yearly festival in Yulin, as well as those intercepted from the trucks of illegal traffickers, you may have also watched in disbelief the disgusting level so-called animal activists and charities have stooped to, to ‘rechannel’ the donations raised for Madam Yang and to have future monies deflected from her to themselves.

Madam Yang has been accused of having millions in her bank account and has, in self-defense, allowed her worldwide publicised bank account be inspected to prove there is no truth in this accusation (what happened to being innocent before proven guilty?). Her accusers will now have to change tactics and I am guessing they will now accuse her of receiving millions from overseas in cash. This, unfortunately for them, can be easily proven untrue. Madam Yang has been accused of cooking dogs herself and even being part of the Chinese mafia. Every day it seems a new and more incredible accusation is aimed at Madam Yang with absolutely no proof or substance. So I am prepared. I expect to be accused of similar things myself or worse. I expect to have many Facebook pages started by fake accounts, or blogs, or petitions written to defame me, as has been done to others. When seen these will be reported and the police will be made aware. I am going nowhere. I am here for one thing and one thing only; the dogs. So let us dance.

Madam Yang against all the odds managed to secure loans and has spent much of that money on a new, very spacious, shelter for her dogs. It comprises of four extremely large buildings joined together by a strip of land in between each. For the first time all her animals will be housed together on one site. This means less travelling for Madam Yang and she will now have more time available to care for her wards. Madam Yang wants to have a medical room built in the new shelter, pens to separate her animals and even accommodation for volunteers. She is achieving all of this despite the British charity known as ‘No To Dog Meat’ holding on to the bulk of donations collected for her, through a fundraiser which is still receiving direct debits even though it is closed, and totals to date more than £91,000.

This new shelter has not been achieved easily. Another person with less resolve and passion would have collapsed under the pressures of the personal attacks, attacks on family, friends and supporters. Instead of helping her to help her rescues, the UK charity and her enemies want to destroy and isolate her. Money does that to some people.  In her darkest moments Madam Yang has thought of giving up helping animals altogether but, like all those with a burning desire to save animals from human cruelty, she could not walk away and abandon the helpless. And here she is today. A bright, beautiful new shelter with plans to make it even better and a cast iron resolve not to be bullied into giving up. Enjoy.

Link to a picture show of moving into the new shelter

 

My Visit To Madam Yang ~~ March 2016

THUMB

12969390_1064275123632286_1511279109_n
Madam Yang’s daughter in law

12921123_1064232860303179_1414264417_n

12939238_1064133286979803_1405229144_n
How many people live in Tianjin
12969247_1064232200303245_614371611_n
One of Madam Yang’s shelters

12969191_1064232073636591_2084552887_n

12919227_1058754784184320_1265394290_n
Working at the new shelter
12910092_1058756697517462_1330281852_n
All four buildings on the left are being converted into new housing for Madam Yang’s rescues

 

mmexport1458434282430

I arrived in Tianjin China after 2 days travelling from Spain. My first impression of the city, as I stepped down from the bus in Tianjin bus station, that there is a lot of poverty here. There were many areas that can only be described as shanty towns and rubbish was piled high and everywhere. The smog was almost choking and the sun was completely blocked out by it. Most of the trees looked dead. The date.. the 19th March 2016. I arrived at my hotel exhausted, but really looking forward to meeting the person who was the main reason for my visit, Yang Xiaoyun, affectionately known as Madam Yang.

The following day I was met at my hotel by my translator and the person who would be guiding me through this trip, a gentleman called MK. We arrived at one of Madam Yang’s shelters early that afternoon.  The shelter was located on what looked like an industrial area but instead of warehouses the area had private dwellings. There was the usual (what was becoming a familiar sight) rubbish strewn everywhere. Madam Yang can only afford to house her dogs in the ‘shanty’ town areas of Tianjin because there the rent is low. In front of the shelter there was a large allotment area where vegetables were being grown.  I was greeted first by a young male volunteer who I later discovered is in a police training academy. Then I was introduced to Madam Yang by MK. MK had met the lady herself on several occasions before. After the initial handshake and Madam Yang looking at me with suspicion, she relaxed slightly when MK explained, among other things, that my visit was one of help, not judgement. I was led into the shelter and was immediately greeted by tens of joyous dogs, jumping up at me from all quarters. I was in the part of the shelter where only the small dogs were housed. On first inspection most animals looked in reasonable health. They were obviously well fed and their love for Madam Yang was undeniable. A few had skin problems and to stop the spread to other dogs or the condition getting worse a vet was needed to see the animals asap. A vets visit was also needed to examine all the dogs for a health check and to bring all animals up to date with their injections for example. On the whole the dogs looked well, happy and lively. However I did witness a few fights and the question of segregation needs to be addressed. I asked Madam Yang where did the dogs come from? to which she replied “Yulin.”  Madam Yang informed me she had enough money for food and rent for all her shelters (at the moment), but she could not afford to pay for a professional vet. If she did the dogs would have to go without food. A lot of donations have now dried up due to the online hate campaign against her, but she is determined to carry on for the sake of the dogs. Madam Yang lives in the shelter with her charges and it has very basic amenities; a bed, a cupboard and that’s about it. It did however have running water. There was no heating in Madam Yang’s sleeping quarters that I could see and the dogs dried dog food (about 30 large sacks) was also housed there.  I know many people are very poor in Tianjin, but it is such a shock to see how Madam Yang lives. The shelter was divided into two; large dogs separated from small dogs. The large dogs had individual pens on their site, the smaller dogs had a covered building and small yard on their site. The large and small dogs were separated by a wrought iron gate. Females and males were together, and it was unknown to me at that time if any had been sterilised. Altogether there were between 120-150 dogs. The shelter was clean (no poo to be seen) but there was a small ‘outbuilding’ that contained a lot of rubbish, but with determination it could be cleaned in a couple of days. I had packed my overalls, so offered my services. I am a ‘hands on’ sort of person and I had come to Tianjin not to just observe but to help as well.  Madam Yang was a bit taken aback when I offered to clean; I do not think many people have done that before. Being the cautious person she is, Madam Yang  wanted time to consider my offer. I also had the pleasure of meeting Madam Yang’s daughter-in-law.  She had obviously been cleaning the shelter with Madam Yang and looked exhausted! I managed to have a short conversation with her through my interpreter. Madam Yang’s daughter in law also eyed me with suspicion. I brought up the subject of the attacks that had been aimed at her and that certain people were accusing her on social media of mismanaging funds and driving a brand new car. She laughed lightly at this and quietly replied, “I don’t drive.” I could tell that the strain of the hate campaign was taking its toll on this young woman. Her own blood family has been dragged into the fray and they too have received threats from individuals determined to destroy Madam Yang.

It is obvious that Madam Yang needs help in her shelters on a permanent basis. She receives help occasionally from family, friends and volunteers but the workload is far too much for just one person. At least two full-time paid staff and/or regular volunteers would be required to ease some of Madam Yang’s burden.

Later that afternoon Madam Yang took me to her new shelter. It is huge! She wants to house all her dogs together to ease up on the burden of her travelling to her various sites. She informed me that she has managed to secure a loan and that the money is being used to renovate the new shelter(s). The rent for the new site is 20,000 RMB a year. During my time in Tianjin Madam Yang was very preoccupied with the new shelter and I went with her on many occasions to see how things were coming along. The workmen were working with very basic materials. There was not even a cement mixer. Madam Yang has had to provide them with all the tools needed right down to new work gloves. One day I went to the ironmonger with her because steel girders were needed. These were ordered and paid for by Mrs Yang in the warehouse and she even had to get the girders transported to the new site herself. They were transported to the new shelter on top of a taxi. This new project is enormous and Mrs Yang is organising the whole thing.  It would test the stamina of a person half her age. Because this new shelter is such an enormous undertaking, I  worry if the loan money is going to cover all the costs. I will keep people informed on how the works are coming along. It became obvious to me in the time I spent at the new shelter that Madam Yang has absolutely no concept of giving or asking for receipts. Madam Yang paid workers in cash and neither party asked for paper documentation.

The following day Madam Yang was extremely busy with all her chores and did not have time to meet me until late afternoon, early evening. My interpreter had a business meeting so Madam Yang and I were alone and had to communicate with hand signals. Having this time alone however helped us to ‘bond’ even though of course the language was a problem. I saw Madam Yang every day of my trip and it was becoming clear to me early on that she wanted to get to know me before she was prepared to open up.  Madam Yang’s day starts at 6 am and after a full days work (and even though she must have been desperate for rest ) she introduced me to her friends, I ate at their homes and was even invited to a birthday party. One evening Madam Yang took me to a restaurant owned by a friend of hers who also helps with rescues. This friend wishes to remain anonymous for fear of attack. I will call her Mary. Mary adores animals, especially cats and they were free roaming but lived on top of the restaurant roof. They obviously hung around there because they knew it was a source of regular food. All the cats looked healthy and very well fed. During the course of the evening the conversation focused on a Chinese man called Chi Chi who is anti China and lives in America. This gentleman sent 10,000 us dollars to Madam Yang for her animals. Because Chi Chi had donated he then started to insist that Madam Yang speaks out against the Chinese government. I am sure I do not have to explain how dangerous it is for any Chinese citizen to speak out against their government. When Madam Yang refused to do so, she was then accused by Chi Chi’s supporters of selling her dogs to Mary’s restaurant. Mary was holding back tears as she explained to me how devastating it was to be accused of serving dog meat in her restaurant. The restaurant was inspected and no trace of dog meat was found. Since then Mary has been hounded by unnamed individuals on social network and because the ‘bullying’ became so bad, she actually closed down her account. She explained to me that this only happened because she spoke out in favor and supported Madam Yang. It was of little comfort to her when I explained the same thing happens to Madam Yang’s supporters in the West. Unfortunately Madam Yang is obviously seen by certain people as a ‘product’ to advance their own objectives which has nothing to do with saving dogs.

In the middle of my visit to Madam Yang I went to her shelter with my overalls on. I was finally allowed to clean! But not for long. Madam Yang whisked me away for an early lunch.  We returned to the shelter an hour later and my interpreter explained to me that Madam Yang really did not want me to clean. She felt embarrassed that I had come such a long way and that I should be enjoying myself visiting the sights of Tianjin. To try to persuade Madam Yang that I wanted to help in her shelters was futile, so I just did little things, like opening up containers of cooked meats, cutting up cooked sausages that some kind shop owner had donated and of course cuddling doggies.

Madam Yang is generous to a fault. I had to insist on paying any restaurant bills, forcing her money back into her purse. I had accidentally left my warm jacket back in my home town and one evening Madam Yang took me shopping to buy another one because I was cold. Again I had to be very strict with her to stop her from paying. I can imagine Madam Yang is probably taken advantage of by unscrupulous people because of her generous nature.

During my trip I interviewed Madam Yang and it was recorded. I asked her many questions, one of them questioning her stance on neutering the dogs. This is obviously a very touchy subject with Madam Yang and I had to tread very carefully so that I did not offend her or her beliefs. My translator explained that Madame Yang does not agree to neutering because of her religion; she is a Buddhist. I explained to Madam Yang that even though she disagreed with neutering we could still work together for a better life for her animals. As I said before, I was there to help Madam Yang, not to judge. I put it to Madam Yang could the sexes at least be separated? This she has agreed to do when she has the room in her new shelter. (Writers note: I contacted a vet for advice and was told that even though the dogs were not neutered the chances of the animals breeding were very low. The combination of stress, horrendous living conditions and infections spreading to the dogs prior to Madam Yang rescuing could render the animals infertile.  If any puppies were produced, the mortality rate would be very high.) This could be one of the reasons why many dog meat butchers resort to stealing people’s pets.  A vet visit to Madam Yang’s animals was needed asap. It was becoming obvious to me that working with Madam Yang was about taking small steps and diplomacy, not about demanding and lecturing. Madam Yang also agreed to allow vets to visit her animals. She however is not in a position financially to pay for vets, so other means will need to be found. I immediately put out an urgent appeal to No To Dog Meat (the British registered charity who did a fundraiser for Madam Yang in June 2015 and they collected over £80,000) asking them the details of the vets that they said they had arranged for Madam Yang’s dogs. So far no vets details have been forthcoming from the charity as of today’s date (10th April 2016). I searched for the vet that No To Dog Meat had organised, but to no avail. MK (my interpreter) then informed me a friend of his was friends with a vet and they attended school together. This vet has agreed to work with Madam Yang. I am in possession of all his particulars and will be liaise with him and Madam Yang to get her dogs seen to asap. Another question I asked Madam Yang was how does she account for donations? As I said before Madam Yang has no accounting skills whatsoever. I explained to Madam Yang the only way she was going to be able to account for past donations and to counteract online accusations of her committing fraud was to open up her bank account for public scrutiny. This she has agreed to do. Madam Yang has also been accused on social media of not opening up her shelters to the public. She informs me the new shelter will have living quarters where volunteers can stay, help, and witness first hand the animals in her care.

Nearing the end of my trip, Madam Yang handed me her phone and on the other end was a friend of hers called Tony and he spoke perfect English. He asked me to be completely honest and to tell him how my trip had gone. I told him I was disappointed that I had not managed to see all the shelters and that I would have liked to have helped more, such as cleaning, etc. Tony said he would tell Madam Yang to open up more to me on my next trip. He explained that Madam Yang is very cautious because of past experiences but she was willing to work with me (through him) to improve the welfare of the dogs that are in her care. With careful diplomacy, understanding, patience and give and take on both sides Madam Yang is willing to open up and accept help. This can only be achieved when both parties have complete trust in each other and are willing to work together for the good of the animals. I have no hidden agendas nor wish for self promotion. I went to China to see how I could physically help save dogs and cats from the horrors of the meat trade. Madam Yang is an iconic symbol of that fight. She has been rescuing dogs for over 20 years not as a charity but as an individual.  Whenever she goes to a dog meat market she is taunted by butchers who torture their dogs in front of her and demand a high price. She has a police escort because of the threats of violence aimed against her and she has been physically attacked. Unfortunately Madam Yang is not only abused in her own country. Recently the hate campaign on social media against her in the West has been unprecedented. Because of this Madam Yang is reluctant to handle any more donated money, so to combat that I am in the process of organising a dog food supplier in Shanghai who is willing to take donations and the company will provide the dog food direct to Madam Yang’s animals. Further information will be posted when all the necessary arrangements have been made. The vet will be paid for directly as well and I am taking advice on how best to achieve this.

As ARAs we should be working with Madam Yang to bring the downfall of the evil dog meat trade; not just in China, but across all of the nations that still practice the barbaric torture and killing of dogs and cats for the dinner table. Madam Yang is the symbol of the anti dog meat movement and her sacrifices have caught the imagination of thousands. Together we can help bring awareness and hopefully one day a stop to this horrendous trade.

mmexport1458437374576
Tired and hungry, with Madam Yang outside local eatery.