How Technology Saves Dogs in China

Zhang Xiaoqiu and his rescued dogs

Having Sirius radio in my car is wonderful, so much to choose from. But 95% of the time my station of choice is the BBC World Service and I just can’t get enough of it. Not only do I get to hear great stories and perspectives I would otherwise miss, I also get to avoid U.S. election year mud-slinging, toddlers in pageants and the Kardashians for a while. This story was so fantastic that I almost spun out of control when I heard it. Oh happy day.

Basically, in China they have their own rapidly growing version of Twitter called Weibo and this story was about how this amazing technology is creating enormous change within the country. They give five examples of how this is impacting lives and social issues, the first one being the story of animal activist Zhang Xiaoqiu and how he has started a movement to save dogs. Below is the text about Zhang Xiaoqiu from the BBC’s site, but you can find the entire technology story by correspondent Duncan Hewitt here. If you prefer to listen to the BBC’s audio, click here.

Zhang Xiaoqiu still remembers the date – 15 April 2011. It was when Weibo changed his life, and saved those of several hundred dogs. The Beijing-based businessman, originally from southern China, had always been an animal lover, but the news he heard via Weibo that day led him to take action.

Fellow internet users had spotted a truck on the motorway heading out of Beijing, loaded with dogs in tiny cages. This could only mean one thing – they were destined for restaurants in China’s north-east, where dog-eating remains more common than in many other parts of the country.

Pictures of the caged animals, posted on Weibo, soon attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of people across China, and at least 100 animal lovers quickly answered an appeal to jump in their cars and block the truck’s path on the road.

Zhang was one of them. He and his wife arrived to find police and local government officials at the scene, and animal lovers attempting to persuade the truck driver to sell them the dogs.

Finally, after Xiaoqiu and other campaigners raised about £1,000 ($1,556), the driver agreed to drive the animals to the compound of the China Small Animals Protection Association (CSAPA) – the country’s only officially recognised animal rights NGO.

Today, Zhang is a volunteer organiser for the CSAPA. He says there has been a dozen more dog rescues over the past year or so, all organised online via Weibo.

“Each time someone will send out a message on Weibo and volunteers from all over the country will find out about it.

“They start to phone the company transporting the dogs, phone the police, phone the animal protection society and the government. It puts enormous public pressure on these people, so they really have no choice but to take action.”

Story text and photo from the BBC’s website.

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