At the start of 2020, when the pandemic broke out, our charity opened a small ‘ secret’ shelter in the heart of Beijing. The country had gone into lockdown, and we knew it would be impossible to transport any dog, and cat meat rescues to our large shelter in Hebei. At that time, people were abandoning and being forced to abandon their pets.
Our brave volunteer Anna tried at first to house the dogs at cats at her grandmother’s home, but there were just too many. We also needed to be near the animal hospital as many dogs and cats had sustained horrific injuries. Some had severed limbs from where they had desperately broken free from chains.
We found what we believed to be a sanctuary at the back of an extensive fruit and vegetable market—an ample space hidden from view. At times, it was also stressful, as, during the strictest part of lockdown, we struggled to get food in. But we managed, helped by the stallholders who often gave us free vegetables at the end of the day.
As you can see from our many photos and videos, we built a lovely playground there, and we even managed to transport some of the larger dogs from Hebei so they could get medical care. We planned to slowly prepare the dogs for new homes in China and abroad.
As the lockdowns started again in Shanghai, we heard rumblings that the market might close again in Beijing. Then just a few days ago, the police raided our spot. They demanded we leave immediately, or all the dogs would be killed. We managed to move the cats to volunteer houses but finding a new space overnight for 140 dogs was impossible. We called the media for help, and the market manager spoke up for us. But to no avail. On Saturday morning, we were evicted.
We managed to find another small space close by, but as we had to leave everything behind, we had to start from scratch. Your donations have helped us make the rapid move, but we still have the rent to pay, kennels to build, and lots to do. We are apprehensive because now is when dogs start to be rounded up before Yulin, and we need to keep them safe. We have some of the survivors from the previous festival, and we could not bear anything to happen to them.
The challenges of rescuing and running shelters in China seem never-ending. There have been no flights out to new homes has been heartbreaking. But we will never give up. Somehow with your help, we manage to keep going and often hanging on by a thread. No one has slept in days, but our team has been incredible. Anna is an absolute angel.