In London there is a famous dogs rescue center called Battersea Dogs Home. If they are lucky, London's stray and unwanted dogs end up there. I would like to introduce you to Kunming's equivalent.
Tucked away in the shadows of the Western Hills (西山), two dedicated Chinese ladies, Cao Zhiying (曹志英) and Yang Yulian (杨玉莲), have set up a home for the waifs and strays of Kunming. They have financed this project themselves, and Miss Yang actually sold her apartment to continue running the rescue center. My animal-loving Chinese friend Monica — who regularly rescues cats in her neighborhood — told me about this place and arranged for me to pay the sanctuary a visit.
Monica drove me part way there one Tuesday morning last December. We were met at the West Bus Station by one of the founding patrons, Miss Cao, because the Kunming Stray Dog Shelter is not necessarily an easy place to find. We followed Miss Cao and ended up driving some narrow roads before parking and continuing on foot for a few minutes. As we got closer we could hear the dogs barking before we could actually see the facility.
Before we went into the compound, we were given aprons to wear. When we did enter, we were overwhelmed by the exuberance of the dogs, who were so pleased to meet us — a wonderful experience for any dog-loving soul.
The home has approximately 170 canine residents, of all breeds and sizes. Some have been there for nearly ten years since the home opened in 2006. The dogs are extremely well looked after and they are all well fed and healthy. When a dog is admitted to the home they are given a health check and any sick animal is given the appropriate medicine. Dogs that need to convalesce are kept in private kennels.
They receive regular meals consisting mainly of corn powder. The compound has two male staff members who keep up the dog exercise area clean and help the ladies to look after general welfare.
When we visited, Monica and I were given small stools to sit on. We sat in the middle of the dog exercise area and we were soon swamped with dogs of all shapes and sizes, each eager for the human touch. It was a wonderful and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit the center and meet all of its residents.
Anyone can go and choose a dog to take home, as long as they have the capacity to provide a good and stable environment. The home is now mainly financed by donations and it runs on a sponsorship scheme. People can also support the dog or dogs of their choice for 40 yuan per animal per month. It is a worthy cause, and I really had a day to remember. I certainly will be going again. It's not every day you get to receive all that unconditional love.
If you would like to go visit the dogs, and perhaps find one for adoption, the Kunming Stray Dog Shelter is located on the western shore of Dianchi Lake in Bijiguan Village (碧鸡关村). The little town is roughly one kilometer west of the Gaoyao Interchange (高峣立交桥), and a map can be found here.
You will need to call one of the owners first to set up the time and date of your visit and discuss detailed directions on how to get there or otherwise arrange a pickup. You can reach Cao Zhiying at 13312563233 or Yang Yulian at 13888991467. Please note, neither of them can speak English.
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