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Wang Yanfang

It has never been easy being a cat or dog in China. Due to intense overcrowding, many cities have a one pet policy. For dogs, they also must be a specific size - small and weigh under 11 pounds - to be kept as pets. Dogs that are any bigger must be sent away to local shelters where they will be euthanized or owners turn them out on the street to avoid the shelters.

These bigger dogs are often brought in from abroad as illegal pets or to be used in dog meat farms, so they occasionally end up on the streets with nowhere to go. Six years ago, avid animal lover Wang Yanfang started a dog sanctuary in rural Weinan to serve as a place for these dogs to go instead of shelters and to keep them off the streets. Since then, this lovely 60-year-old lady has been joined by four other volunteers - all women in their 60s or 70s. Every morning these women rise at 4 AM to cook, clean up after and groom the more than 1,300 large strays that have ended up being brought to the sanctuary.

According to Yanfang, each of the women have been bitten and scratched numerous times by the less tame wild dogs that prowled the streets, making their work thankless, but for a good cause. The entire organization, including the women that live on the property are supported by donations from other animal lovers in China and abroad.

It is certainly not the most effective of programs, considering the dogs have the run of the compound with no sort of order or separation, but when it comes to the humane treatment of strays, it's the best that China has to offer for its forgotten furry friends.

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