|A dog and his young master. [Provided by author]|
"To love, and to be loved is the true meaning behind adopting a companion animal", said Yang Yang, co-founder of Beijing Adoption Day, a local charity organization dedicated to promoting animal rights in China.
Under the slogan of "Adopt; Do Not Shop", Beijing Adoption Day (BAD in abbreviation) has been campaigning for such belief in that it is a delightful way of being to provide a sweet home for rescued stray animals, to love and to be generously rewarded with affection and loyalty in return.
Starting from the patio of a residential compound with the participation of a few dozens of passers-by in November, 2011, the charity and its team of volunteers have so far organized 46 off-line events where more than 2,000 rescued stray animals were adopted.
At the meantime, rescuers actively publish information on animals who need a home through BAD's microblog and social media platforms.
"Our ultimate goal is that one day we will no longer need to organize off-line events, that one day the adoption of a companion animal has become a part of every Chinese family's plan by default", told Xinhuanet Chen Jia, another co-founder of BAD.
"... And that nobody needs to about anything when he or she rescues an animal from danger even without the conditions to keep it, for we will be there to help find a home for the rescued", she said, while Yang Yang nodded in agreement.
Not Pity, Love: Love is the Best Weapon
Yang Yang and Chen Jia, the two co-founders of BAD, are young, hip, pretty, native Beijing girls. They met in April, 2011, during a massive, self-organized rescue action on the highway connecting Beijing with Harbin, where a large number of civilian volunteers gathered to stop a thief truck from shipping hundreds of stolen dogs from being butchered and resold back into meat market illegally.
Chen Jia remembered Yang Yang as a skinny, fashionable young woman who had lost her voice shouting to coordinate the rescue; to Yang Yang, Chen Jia gave the first impression of an exhausted, yet fierce fighter who had stayed in the veterinarian's clinic taking care of the rescued dogs, without sleeping or eating for days.
Hundreds of dogs were saved that day. Then what?
Some dogs with implanted chips were sent back to reunite with their families, but what would happen to the rest?
To stop the crime-in-motion and save lives was certainly crucial, and the next step would be even more important: To cure the wounded and the sick, to find them a refuge to recover, and to find these once beloved companion animals a new home where they could be cared for again.
There arose the idea of Beijing Adoption Day.
Chen Jia recalled the cold, grey November of 2011, when a few friends and she held the first edition of the event.
Chen Jia wrote a lengthy flyer of 10,000 words, in an almost desperate effort to explain to people the benefits of having a companion animal, and the heavy reward they would get if they could give love.
On that day, only one dog was adopted, by one of the volunteers that helped arrange the occasion.
Dream Goes On
But they did not give up just yet.
Yang Yang, who worked in Public Relations for high-end clientel, insisted that a bit of class was what they needed to market their brand, and with a better known brand, they would be able to generate greater social influence.
"It was never about how many dogs and cats we could help find a home to live; it is all about a loving way of being and of living, which could be still strange to some people", she pointed out.
On November the 27th, 2016, Beijing Adoption Day celebrated their fifth anniversary alongside the 46th edition of their on-line event at the Wanda Mall of Tongzhou District, attracting thousands of visitors who were given the chance to have a close, personal contact with the adorable animals to be adopted; many brought their young children, and even more signed up for adoptive family qualification.
"What we try to do here, as you can see, is to show people how lovely the rescued animals are, to cultivate their affection for our furry friends and to promote the way of being that could bring joy and happiness to a whole family: To love an animal, and to be loved back", said Chen Jia.
On the other hand, BAD manages a fund from the donations and charity sales to pay for sterilization surgeries of stray animals while publicizing the TNR method (trapping, neutering and returning) to control the population of stray animals.
Baicha, famous comic writer and creator of a hugely popular cartoon Cat Wuhuang (My Imperial Majesty in Chinese), was present at the event and called for love and caring for the rescued strays.
"I truly admire these guys for I believe what they are doing is a - although very hard as well - noble cause", said Baicha to Xinhuanet reporter. "I would love to do all I can to be part of it".
"By adopting companion animals from the rescued strays, we can foresee that more and more people will be encouraged to join us in protecting animal, and when we consider the animals as family members, the animal welfare will be improved undoubtedly", said a volunteer of the charity group.
"Actually, when people came to ask me how to help, I always tell them that to adopt animals and care for them is the best way to put an end the illegal meat industry, and to stop animal cruelty that happens inside the puppy and kitten mills where so-called pure breeds were created artificially in order for the shameless humans to make a profit", she said.
Including famous actresses like Sun Li and Gao Yuanyuan, many Chinese celebrities have shown support to BAD's cause. "We are proud that we have been casting a positive influence on people, and things have been changing towards a promising direction", said Yang Yang, who call herself and her friends "dreamers" in a tone of cheer.
And their dream passes on. The "Beijing Adoption Day" model has been copied in 23 Chinese cities and districts, where similar activities are held regularly, inviting people to adopt a new way of living with a gift of love.
"We wish that every life on this planet could be treated with tenderness", concluded the activist.
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