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Many voices, one passion

I wish you could have been at the Sichuan Hotel this weekend, hearing the leaders of 49 animal-welfare groups and 18 vet clinics across China speaking about the successes and struggles of rescuing animals, caring for animals – and giving animals their voice. 

With generous funding from major sponsors Humane Society International (HSI), we were able to fund flights and accommodation for the delegates – almost none of whom would have been able to afford the expenses themselves. Animal Guardians also gave a generous donation towards the symposium.

It was wonderful to see Peter Li again. Peter (pictured here) is now representing HSI and has been a long-time friend, supporter and adviser to Animals Asia since we first began. 

Our own Animals Asia staff worked non-stop to make sure that the conference was nothing less than flawless from start to finish. Christie Yang headed up a team comprising Rainbow, Suki, Sailing, Jackey, Cherry, Irene and Betty, who were smooth and professional throughout.

And so the presentations began. Almost a year on from the terrible earthquake in Sichuan, pictures flashed up onto the screens showing determined welfarists going into the devastated areas last May. 

So many lucky dogs and cats owe their lives to brave people around the country who shared “lessons learned” from the disaster relief, while we all silently prayed that people and animals would never see such devastion again. 

More presentations and pictures showed Chinese activists demonstrating against the live animal markets and the consumption of dogs and cats – shouting about the victims’ plight from the inside of a cage. It was clear from the crowds around them, and the petitions being signed, that the general public is very much warming to the issue of animal rights. 

We had a passionate discussion about humane euthanasia with shelter managers, who struggle to care for animals often inflicted with terrible injury and disease. 

We know these animals deserve the best chance and that miracles can happen, but the reality is that many such animals die a lingering death if left to their own devices. In a lively discussion, we debated the appropriate drugs – and appropriate reasons – for humanely putting these poor animals to sleep. 

Everyone sympathised as Ms Ha admitted plunging into the depths of despair when caring for hundreds of rescued dogs and cats, and then we smiled with relief as she stressed her determination never to give up, and proudly showed us her brand new “dog tattoo” on her arm, which lifts her spirits today. 

It was clear to everyone that we should more vigorously promote programmes, such as desexing and “trap, neuter release”, helping to reduce the number of dogs and cats, so that carers in turn can reduce their shelter overload, reduce their financial headaches, and reduce their emotional heartache – allowing them to be educators, rather than collectors. 

And some more photos from the symposium - here's Jiang Hong of the Hong Shiliu Companion Animal Rescue Center in Xian: 

Our own vet nurse Hayley:

Our Animal Welfare Director Mark Jones:

The delegates' visit to our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu ....

... where they enjoyed a fantastic veggie lunch whipped up by a wonderful local Buddhist restaurant called Zao Zi Shu:

And finally, a pic of Christie and I proving that the symposium was not all about hard work!


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