Yang Xiaoyun is devoting her life to saving dogs facing slaughter for food in China. Anita Li reports.
Meet Yang Xiaoyun - not your average pet owner. For years, she's devoted her life to looking after vulnerable dogs… Lots of them. In fact, she's now got around 3,000 at her home in the northern city of Tianjin. Even more remarkable, they're not just strays - they were all headed for the slaughter house. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 65 YEAR-OLD ANIMAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER, YANG XIAOYUN, SAYING: "I sold two houses, I've mortgaged my son's home, and I'm heavily in debt. But these dogs can't just be can't just to let back into the wild." China has a poor record when it comes to animal rights. Activists say a lack of dog pounds means police are left to indiscriminately kill thousands of stray dogs every year. And in the southern city of Yulin, the annual dog meat eating festival held just a few weeks ago attracts thousands of people. This year, Yang made the trip south, taking nearly $50, 000 with her to buy 500 dogs so they wouldn't be eaten. Alongside a team of local volunteers she stops at little to save truckloads of dogs being driven to their death. But sometimes, things can get out of hand, like earlier this week when activists smashed the windscreen of a lorry (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 65 YEAR-OLD ANIMAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER, YANG XIAOYUN, SAYING: "Right now the volunteers are helping the dogs from this truck and they're not letting the drivers go. The police, and the bureau of animal control, who are in that car, are supporting the men driving the truck. The volunteers are not letting them leave." Back at the compound volunteers nurse hundreds of other dogs back to health, a difficult task especially when it comes to money. But Yang's message to China and the rest of the world is simple -- you can't put a price on helping man's best friend.