A 51- year-old Buddhist monk named Zhi Xiang has devoted his life to delivering and rehabilitating China’s abandoned dogs and cats, with the ultimate goal of placing them in forever homes with loving families. Beyond saving creatures, Xiang’s charge is to embody the principles of his faith, setting a positive illustration of commitment and discipline to fellow Buddhists and serving as a spiritual companion for his community.
Dressed in his trademark orange robe, Xiang has become a recognizable figure on Shanghai’s streets. He hunts for injured, sick, and abandoned creatures that he can take back to the deliverance center at his Bao’en Temple, where he’s the head monk.
According to sources, he cares for puppies, 200 cats, and several peacocks, geese, and cravens. The creatures live in the Bao’en Temple’s recuperation center and at a sanctum near Dagang, which he rents. Xiang provides the creatures with food (roughly 60 tons of food per month) and primary medical care, such as immunizations.
Besides saving strays from the streets, Xiang regularly rescues dogs listed to be put down at shelter homes. He takes them back to his center until they find a permanent home.
Xiang points out that most abandoned animals were due to irresponsible pet ownership. He explained that China’s ever growing middle class led to a big rise in ‘pet’ interest, but that interest – in most cases – wasn’t backed up by principles of responsible pet ownership.
“I started to save stray abandoned animals in 1993. I was in a car on the highway, and I saw a cat that had been badly hit by a car. The poor animal looked like it was desperately calling out for help. It all started there. Eventually, I just started driving around with the sole purpose of finding animals that needed help ot immediate attention”
In addition, some families may not comprehend the commitment that comes with retaining a pet, and as a result, occasionally abandon the poor creatures on the streets. What’s more, pet possessors generally don’t spay or neuter their female and male dogs respectively, inescapably leading to further strays. “This ( situation) isn’t caused by people who dislike dogs, or by the government, but by so- called pet owners who don’t have proper pet- minding knowledge,” he explained.
Xiang’s sympathizers use social media to raise donations for his sweats and connect with people living in North America and Europe who might be interested in espousing the tykes. As a result, some 300 dogs have been blessed with permanent homes in the United States, Canada, and Germany.
The monk has a connection with all of the saved creatures, and he loves each one of them. Lately, a levy was flying to Seattle to bring one of the dogs to its new home, and Xiang was spotted at the departure gate snuggling the canine and wiping gashes from his face when the time came to part ways. It was an emotional scene.
Inspired by his passion for saving strays lives, Xiang launched the grassroots design, which has won the hearts of everyone from Shanghai to transnational followers. With numerous sympathizers behind Xiang, the future for Shanghai’s strays looks brighter than ever!
Xiang’s achievement in creating a loving home for broken creatures without fiscal support from the Chinese government proves that selfless fidelity is enough to impact major societal issues significantly.
Other pet messiahs include 29- year-old Chris Van Dorn, who doubles as batman and saves creatures from harbors in Orlando, Florida, and a Texan woman named Kayla Denney, who saved 560 dogs and cats. Denney was awarded the 2019 Petco Foundation’ Obscure Idol’ award and won$ after bringing her original shelter’s kill rate from 100 to 0.
“I have a dream that one day when I have lots of leisure time, I want to go abroad and visit these lovely creatures and click pictures with every dog that I rescued. So, when I get old and can’t walk, I have these photos to look at and reminisce”
Shanghai’s animal saviour reckons helping strays in China is like a spiritual journey for him. The Buddhist monk also cares for several hundred cats and other strays such as chickens and peacocks, and wakes up at 4 am at his shelter home to tend to all the animals. In total, the approximate cost of animal care comes to about $1.8 million a year, funded by several animal charities and donations.
“I have to rescue them because if I don’t, they will die for sure,” Zhi said.
China’s pet explosion is indeed a problem as many of them do not survive due to hunger, accidents, or other illness.The remaining ones are rounded up by the police and put down.
“Thanks to volunteers, some of the animals are re-sheltered abroad, in the US or Europe.
“I think they’re very happy so I feel it’s worthwhile,” he adds with gratitude.