There are so many stray dogs in the world that just need a little human kindness. But while many people just pass these dogs by, others dedicate their whole lives to helping them.
Zhi Xiang is a 51-year-old monk who has been dedicating his time and resources to help stray dogs since 1994.
In that time, he has helped save an incredible 8,000 dogs.
He says that he is driven by his faith to help the helpless animals: “I have to rescue them because if I don’t, they will die for sure,” Zhi told AFP.
Zhi rescues animals from the street and gives them a place to stay, either in his monestary or in a shelter he runs in Shanghai. While he’s rescued other animals like cats, most of his rescues have been dogs.
According to AFP, caring for the dogs costs him $2 million a year.
His mission is supported by his parents, fellow monks and other donors.
China has long had a problem with huge numbers of stray cats and dogs, with an estimated population of 50 million homeless animals.
Zhi says a big part of the problem is irresponsible pet owners, who often don’t spay or neuter their pets.
“Stray animals are neither caused by people who dislike animals, nor by the government, but by the so-called dog lovers,” Zhi told AFP. “If they adopt a dog without sterilising them, without proper animal-caring concept, they are getting dogs and then abandoning them when they don’t want to raise it anymore, which causes out-of-order breeding.”
But while the stray population remains a major issue, Zhi is playing a big part in helping reduce the number of strays by getting the dogs adopted abroad.
Zhi says he often misses the dogs when they head overseas, but he hopes he’ll be able to reunite with them again.
“I think they’re very happy so I feel it’s worthwhile,” Zhi said, after dropping a dog at the airport as it headed overseas to Seattle. “But of course I miss them.”
“I have a dream that one day, when I have some free time, I want to go abroad and visit them, take photos with every dog that I rescued,” he said. “So when I get old and can’t walk, I have these photos to look at.”
Thank you to Zhi for doing so much to help these stray dogs! The world needs more people like this.