This gallery contains 34 photos.
I am Maimai Ma, an overseas Chinese in Spain. Until November 2016, I had been a strong supporter, donor and defender of Yang Xiaoyun. My visit to her shelter in November 2016 led to the collapse of my confidence in her. The visit exposed the darkest secrets Yang had tried to hide from me and is still hiding from her donors in China and around the world.
How I Got to Know Yang
In 2006-2014, I lived in Tianjin for 8 years and one day in 2009 I read about Yang Xiaoyung. I was so touched by her story, a retired teacher who saved so many stray dogs. In July 2015, when I heard that Yang took in the dogs rescued on July 7, my admiration for her was greater.
Support for Yang
My admiration and support for Yang were such that I had since June 2015 become a fighter for Yang Xiaoyun in all the disputes where Yang was accused of charity fraud and neglect of her dogs. In all these disputes, I stood squarely with Yang believing that she could not be wrong and that she was a true hero. I was so devoted to her that I rejected any charges g directed at Yang. To me, Yang Xiaoyun is a “goddess of kindness.”
In about 18 months, day and night, I argued with countless people who accused Yang. I believed that those who questioned Yang had ulterior motives. Attacking Yang Xiaoyun, in my opinion, is attacking animal protection movement. It was helping the dog meat traders.
In September 2015, when an investigative report was released on Yang’s shelter and when a New York Times report confirmed the results of the investigation, The New York Times, I rejected the investigative report and the New York Times report as baseless.
The Very Reason of My Visit to Yang’s Shelter
When I was back to China in October 2016, I decided to visit Yang’s shelter and see the dogs I had helped and donated money for their care. I arrived in Tianjin on November 17; met Yang for lunch on the 18th and agreed to visit her shelter on the 19th. I was so looking forward to seeing the dogs.
Frankly, my visit to Yang’s shelter had two purposes:
- To show support to “Aunty Yang” at a time when she was under attack; and
- more importantly, to use my own visit to prove that the critics were wrong and that all the attacks on her were baseless.
The entire visit was full of shocks. When I arrived at the gate of Yang’s shelter, she met me with a cold face and said that she normally did not allow people to go in. I was profoundly confused. Anything wrong? Reluctantly, Yang agreed to my entering on condition that I did not take any photos. I agreed and put my cell phone inside my pockets.
I was more shocked the very moment I saw the dogs. Their poor conditions were beyond description: serious skin problems, eyes covered with eye mucus, scratching and rubbing against the walls or posts, and begging for food or for touching from me. Seeing the poor conditions of the dogs, I was crying behind my sunglasses, shedding tears of pain, regret and self-blame.
This was no shelter. It was run-down, terribly smelly, and absolutely filthy.
Big and small dogs, males and females all were mixed together. In one enclosure with small dogs, the floor was littered with garbage. Dogs were dirty , lifeless, sick, and hungry.
When I saw a few poodles huddled together, I offered to help adopt them out overseas. Yang Xiaoyun’s answer shocked me: “This is a prison for dogs. Nobody shall take them out of here.” “And, I do not want anybody to watch me,” she said coldly.
All of a sudden, this “Mama Yang” or “Aunty Yang” who I have supported and donated for years looked very strange and even ugly.
Number of Dogs in the Shelter
There were no more than 300 dogs. I did not see workers or hired helpers there. I was asking in my mind “even with 300 dogs, how can she alone handle it?”
When I was about to leave, Yang Xiaoyun offered to buy me some Tianjin style tea sets and local specialties. When I declined her gift offer, her attitude changed for the worse.
My Suggestions and Yang’s Flat Refusal
I talked to several supporters of Yang Xiaoyun about the conditions of the dogs and the shelter. I urged them to persuade Yang Xiaoyun to make improvements. If not, she will lose all her donors. For the first time, I realize that stray dogs on the streets may be living a better life than those in her shelter.
I made four suggestions:
- De-sex male dogs as soon as possible;
- separate males from females;
- separate dogs by sizes; and
- send dogs with skin problems to animal hospitals and separate these dogs from the rest.
Yang Xiaoyun’s flat refusal convinced me that the charges against Yang were actually not baseless.
Very soon, Yang began to demonize me. I was no longer a “goddess of love” and “great and compassionate lady,” good words she used to shower on me. I turned into somebody she hated so much.
To Yang’s Donors Worldwide
What happened to me could happen to you if you ask how your donation has been used. I urge you to go and take a look to see if your hard-earned money has been spent on the dogs. I used to take whatever she said as truth.
My visit confirmed the many charges of her opponents:
• Yang has not been truthful.
• Donation has not been spent on the dogs.
• Dogs die in massive number in her shelter since no veterinary service is used.
• The findings of the 2015 investigation were true.
• The findings of the New York Times were true.
• The decision by major international animal protection groups to withdraw support for Yang is a correct move.
• Some 700 dogs from Yulin in 2015 and rescued on July 7, 2015 disappeared.
• No workers were hired (Her recent claim that she owes salary to workers is a lie.).
• Yang’s shelter is indeed more mysterious than North Korea as a social media post wrote.
Here are a few photos taken by others who were there with me.
I once worshipped Yang Xiaoyun like a cult member. I refused to believe anything negative about her. I was one of her most devoted donors. And I fought with almost everybody who questioned her.
My visit to the shelter opened my eyes. She is no animal helper. Donations that she receives worldwide in the last few years have gone somewhere else.
Donors worldwide have the right to ask where the money has gone to.
In August 2015, when a UK registered charity visited Mrs Yang they were shocked at the filthy state of her so-called shelters with so many dogs who were clearly suffering terribly. NoToDogMeat quite rightly refused to hand over all the funds raised to help dogs rescued from Yulin to this self-confessed animal abuser who used to boast that she had never used a vet in 20 years.
By that time, Mrs Yang had already received £18,000 leaving £63,000 from an £81,000 total (in rounded-down figures). NoToDogMeat rightly gave the remaining funds to other rescuers, as they had the legal and moral duty to do. The bulk of the funds were given to a genuine Yulin rescuer with a well-kept shelter who truly cared about the wellbeing of the dogs and worked night and day to take good care of them.
On that same visit, caring Chinese activists had told the NoToDogMeat trustees that Mrs Yang had an enclosure, a type of large holding pen, in a desert type of place where dogs were left without anyone in attendance, and took them there. The dogs looked like they had been left there in the hot sun for days with no shelter, no food or water and some were already dead.
All the evidence points to the horrific truth about Mrs Yang, which is Xaioyun Yang is not a dog rescuer but is, in fact, a dog meat trafficker. Mrs Yang is not even registered as a charity but as a business. Mrs Yang has a record of over 20 years running filthy temporary shelters on derelict waste-grounds full of bacteria and parasites which are basically hellholes for dogs. Pictures and videos of her so-called shelters full of filthy rubbish show routinely there was no water available to the dogs through the very hot Chinese summers.
Over the years through many professionally made articles and videos, Mrs Yang has repeatedly made fantastic claims such as she had a massive number of dogs, the number varying from 300 to 6,000. Yet no one has ever seen her with more than about 200 dogs. This is despite Mrs Yang’s claims that she was constantly rescuing dogs, sometimes hundreds of dogs at once, which over the years would have amounted to many thousands of dogs. Mrs Yang is known not to rehome dogs, so where did all those dogs go? Mrs Yang has never given an explanation for this.
Mrs Yang repeatedly claimed her dogs were starving in order to get donations. Yet at the same time, Mrs Yang filmed herself for a fundraising video drawing £32,000 out of her bank to go to buy more dogs at Yulin, 1600 miles away. Anyone with a brain would be asking how Mrs Yang, who had always claimed to be a lone rescuer who couldn’t drive, could manage to transport the dogs 1600 miles back to her shelter? And who was looking after her hundreds or thousands of dogs while she was away purportedly buying other dogs?
Due to many complaints about Mrs Yang’s shelter, including complaints from neighbours about the terrible smells of excrement and rotting body parts, the shelter was visited by a body of Chinese officials who carried out an investigation and found that it did not meet even the barest minimum standards of hygiene or indeed anything else. They published a very damning report which confirmed the shocking findings set out in the NoToDogMeat site report. In particular, they remarked that the ground was covered in excrement and there was no evidence of the shelter ever having been cleaned. They said they decided to set about and try to sweep up some of the excrement but it was not possible to find a broom. They posted their report on the internet and it is still online, where it can be read in English or in Chinese.
There have been many other reports, including eyewitness reports, videos and pictures which prove that Mrs Yang is not fit to run a shelter. If Mrs Yang had been in the UK or US or many other countries, she would have been shut down, in court and very probably in prison, a long time ago.
The main accusers and ringleaders of the structured hate campaign targeting NoToDogMeat for speaking out against Mrs Yang, namely Peter Egan and Daniel Allen, were asked by the Press regulatory body to provide evidence to back up the defamatory and dishonest claims in the Mirror article that they have used to attack NoToDogMeat, for example, that they were trolled. The only answer they were able to give is that they had “NO EVIDENCE” which proves absolutely conclusively that they lied. Not that NoToDogMeat lied, because they didn’t, but that Peter Egan and Daniel Allen lied. They were the ones that did the online trolling and they were the ones who lied. They were the ones who fought the corner of a con artist against a legitimate UK non-profit which is more stringently regulated than a US 501c3.
Moreover, their friend Andrew Penman a hack reporter for the Mirror published an article which disgracefully rehashed the lies that Peter Egan and Daniel Allen had told him and then Andrew Penman himself repeatedly lied. Even the Change.org petition they used extensively for their nefarious purposes is full of lies. More can be read about this in NoToDogMeat’s response to the Mirror article which is posted on their blog site.
by Dominick Mezzapesa
It’s pretty amazing how clearly you can see people’s motivations when viewing things from afar or over time.
During our investigation for an upcoming story about the drama that took place between Notodogmeat and Mrs Yang, the famous Chinese dog buying activist, we kept running across the name Dr. Daniel Allen.
It would seem Dr. Allen believed his one chance for stardom and escape his “otterman” moniker was to insert himself into the conflict between Mrs.Yang and Notodogmeat.
In 2014 Allen filmed an animal show pilot called “Animal House.” I am sure he was trying extremely hard to get it picked up by one of a dozen USA or UK reality channels… It failed.
“Animal House” describes itself as: “A television show that will renovate or build animal shelters in struggling communities. It’s family-friendly, inspirational and in need of a network home.”
Having written several novels and movie scripts…
View original post 1,931 more words
The End Draws Nears For Con Artist Madam Yang
by Dominick Mezzapesa
9 June 2017
The fight between Mrs. Yang or Madam Yang as some call her and No To Dog Meat is over. With the vindication of NoToDogMeat, it signals the end of the con-artist Mrs. Yang.
I have had enough of Mrs. Yang / Madam Yang and her “Pity me, I’m just an old, sweet grandmotherly type, retired schoolteacher, just helping the dogs.” Bullshit!
In a recent post from “Friends of Yang,” they claim a big donor pulled out and they need money to survive after being backstabbed from this once loyal supporter.
Madam Yang’s downward spiral coincides with the British Charity Commission ruling vindicating NoToDogMeat. They also ruled that wannabe reality star and fraud, Dr. Daniel Allen’s and Peter Egan’s claims that they were harassed by NoToDogMeat trolls was nothing more than a self-created fantasy. In other words Dr. Dan and Egan LIED!
I truly felt that Madam Yang was just a simple woman who was caught up in the Yulin hysteria. After her pictures, videos and story went viral. I believed she became overwhelmed and maybe even bought into the hype.
Having rescue organisations coming out of the woodwork to try and help her she bought into her stardom hook, line and sinker.
The moment glorification from groupies overrides facts and truth the person you were, no longer exists.
Knowing how easy it is for a person like Madam Yang to get caught up in the hysteria, has always made me feel bad for her.
But I have had enough of Mrs. Yang and her fake outrage, and her “Everyone is out to get me” excuses.
Just months after achieving stardom Madam Yang was already being exposed as a fraud.
In an interview, done in September 2015, a reporter asked Madam Yang about documented reports showing her rescue organisation left much to be desired.
Mrs. Yang working from the con-artist playbook grew upset about being exposed. saying “The images of dead animals could not be from her shelters.” Finishing with the classic con-artist excuse of blaming the criticism on the jealousy from rival activists.
“They spread this rumor against me,” she said, “because I took in all the dogs so they can’t use them to raise money.”
The Con Artist Playbook
No matter what subject you are talking about, in the universe of con artists, liars, and scammers, there are excuses to follow, when you get called out.
The evidence is fake and it’s a conspiracy to destroy me.
They are jealous of my success.
We are insignificant and/or we run a small organisation so you have to ask why they are bothering with poor little old me?
Guilt trip the accuser.
“We are just trying to help.”
“We should be working together.”
“How can you stand by and watch these dog’s die?”
“They are using me to make money or to draw attention to themselves off of my fame.”
“Pity me, readers, because… I gave up (blank), I suffered so much. My family has sacrificed (blank). Recently my health has suffered because of (blank).” etc., etc.
Cry… cry… and cry some more and when left no choice… cry with snot running out of your nose. This is a sure sign that you are the ultimate con-artist professional.
A perfect example that has nothing to do with animal activism is the Kathy Griffin 2017 news conference. In a matter of 10 minutes, she hit every major bullet point from the “I’m a con-artist” playbook. She jumps the shark so bad, she even played the pity me card (complete with tears). Crying: “All I did was post an ISIS-inspired President Trump decapitation picture? Why are they being so cruel to poor me, I’m nothing, a nobody? But these old white men in power just want to destroy me because I am a woman.”
You may ask where I have gotten these rules? While this list is mine, it has been created from many hours spent trying to understand how a con-artist’s mind works.
Viewing hundreds of hours of FBI techniques, or watching my personal favorite, Dr. Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. I believe I have a very good grasp on how a con-artist’s mind works, but more importantly how to spot them.
I never tried to attack Madam Yang.
I never exposed the documented proof that was sent to me or I had discovered.
I never listened to my gut, which has been pretty accurate over my lifetime in exposing bullshit.
I stayed out of it.
I never defended NoToDogMeat against Madam Yang.
I also tried to be respectful of the people who I have gotten to know. I respect people such as Victoria Charlotte, Mrs Yang’s main fundraiser and a true Yang believer. I had hoped that they were not suckered in and I did try to explain my doubts that I had to the people I knew who had followed her.
Late last year both sides wanted me to write about NoToDogMeat and Madam Yang. I gave them fair warning. I would NOT play favorites and I will report the facts as they are presented. We won’t discriminate when it comes to exposing people. It’s hilarious seeing the same person cheer you when the facts support them and curse you when they don’t.
While I spent weeks on this last year I decided that I would rather just hate myself for wasting all those hours, than write this story. I felt it would be dishonest for me to do so because the NoToDogMeat and Madam Yang drama started long before I got involved. I would have needed to rely on too many secondhand reports for the facts. So I chose to stay out of it, and let the Charity Commission and the lawyers issue their rulings.
I will say this. Last year I came to one undeniable fact. For the past few years, Mrs. Yang has been using the ”con artist playbook” whenever she got confronted or challenged by facts.
The number one rule in catching a con artist… Let them speak.
Here are a few small excerpts taken from the “Friends of Yang“ Facebook account. As you can read they hit many of the typical con artist excuses.
3rd February 2017 – “I’m especially looking forward to seeing the new roofs paid for by the kind donors and followers of this page.”
3rd March 2017 – “Thank goodness most of you are intelligent enough to see through the mirrors and smokescreens of blatant lies… This hate campaign has not gone unnoticed by Madam Yang and her health and mentality have been affected greatly because of it.”
5th March 2017 – “The hate and vile lies are taking their toll not only on Madam Yang but this group as well. It is using up energy and time that is taking us away from the main focus that being the animals.”
26th March 2017 – “It is now increasingly impossible to conclude other than the Charity Commission for England and Wales, in spite of many complaints, have colluded with the NoToDogMeat charity.”
25th April 2017 – “While looking after approximately 2,000 animals Madam Yang recently told us she has been fighting illness herself. She suffers from pains in her legs which have been caused mostly by the damp 2 x 2 sq m room she lives in.”
5th May 2017 – “Before shelling out your hard earned cash to support Western charities growing fat on the ‘Yulin bandwagon’ of easy money please check out grass roots rescuers Friends of Yang.”
25th May 2017 – “We are struggling desperately to raise the money to pay for the last two bills to date from the builders who are making improvements at Madam Yang’s shelter. We want to have a good relationship with them and pay our outstanding debt as soon as possible.” (The total comes to 33,000rmb – remember this number.)
7th June 2017 – “We have just been given the devastating news that the regular donor who pays for the rent at Madam Yang’s shelter has been swayed by the hate campaign against Madam Yang and will not be paying this year’s rent. We need to raise 30,000rmb (BINGO!) in the next two weeks or Madam Yang’s animals will be homeless.”
The Beginning of the End
The demise of a person or an organisation is easily seen when viewed through the lens of history. But seeing the signs as they happen can be difficult. Seeing this happen first hand on many occasions, we listed below some of the key points to look for.
Future projects that lack the bigger, more grandiose over the top goals that were once commonplace. Example: Instead of “We are going to CLOSE Yulin.” It now becomes “We want to bring awareness to Yulin”.
They start doing what everyone else is doing because now they claim “We want to work together”.
They are taking time off due to family, health or pressure from the organisations that want to destroy them.
Post that the evil conspiracy had won or a previously loyal supporter have backstabbed them, and only you can save them. “Help fight against the big [fill in blank] and show them the people won’t stand by and watch our demise.”
Of course, many cult members will buy into these excuses. But these same members, instead of facing the truth that they were conned, will simply fade away from the support group. Most likely hooking up with another con-artist.
At some point on the ‘end is near’ road, the con artist will reach the “Time to self-implode” milestone. When Friends of Yang wrote the post below, it shows that she had arrived at this point in her journey.
The “pity me” cry for cash plea for help works fine, but only to a point. It will never achieve what a con-artist or their supporters hope, because the fact is, everyone has problems.
“Pity me” for cash plea’s only works if they can show your “pity me” problems are more than that of the person reading.
It is the very reason why ‘cancer’ and ‘kids’ work so well when it comes to raising “pity me cash”.
For the record genuine people who suffered cancer or a plea to help a child is NOT pity. I am just using the name for this article and in no way believe those truly suffering deserve “pity” they deserve our compassion and our help.
If you want to cry because I used the phrase “pity me cash” send me your address I’ll send you an official I don’t give a s*it crying towel, because I just wrote that this is NOT my position.
When compared to a person with cancer, your car having engine trouble pales in comparison. So we generously give to help these poor people whose problems are much greater than ours.
So Madam Yang’s “can you top this pity story” can only bring in so much in funding. When that happens desperate times call for desperate measures.
A Fact of Life
You know you the con-artist has reached the end of the line when they bring out the “It’s racist” or “Shame on you for letting the conspiracy win” or “How can you stand by and watch these dogs die” plea for cash.
For us, it signals time to start searching for the next con-artist. It won’t take long because there always seem to be one waiting in the wings. One of the true universal facts is “Life abhors a vacuum”.
As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, when one Madam Yang or Marc Ching goes the way of the dodo, as they inevitably will, another Madam Yang or Marc Ching will surely take their place and we will be here to expose them.
From “Charities Observer” which is a troll site set up by Mrs Yang’s supporters there follows something of an own goal. Although when one starts to look closely, all the Mrs Yang propaganda, including videos by her own film company, is awash with it.
“There are two most mysterious places on earth,” one Chinese activist wrote not too long ago. “And these are North Korea and Yang Xiaoyun’s shelter in Tianjin, China.” Why is Yang Xiaoyun’s shelter considered a mysterious place next to Pyongyang? The answer is simple: Yang’s shelter is not open to the public, not even to donors who want to take a look at the dogs they have made financial and material contributions.
Who is Yang Xiaoyun?
Yang Xiaoyun, also called Yang Aiyun, is the so-called “dog rescue hero” of China or the alleged “symbol” of opposition to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, as she was referred to by Western media.
In 2014, a photo showing Yang on her knees reportedly begging to save a dog went viral in China and globally. Unknown to most donors in the West, this photo was not really “authentic.” The young man was in fact walking his pet dog on that day. Seeing reporters around, Yang kneeled down all of a sudden in front of the young man and started to shout for the dog. Startled, perplexed, and disgusted, the young man shouted back: “I am just walking my own dog and happen to walk by here.” “And, I am no dog meat trader,” he told everybody around. Yet, the highly theatrical scene of Yang on her knees was captured in photos and videos. A “hero” was born. This photo earned Yang global name recognition and opened further the floodgate of donations to her bank account.
There is nothing wrong for animal rescue groups to fundraise to help animals. Yet, whoever raises money from the public must stand by the principle of operational transparency and financial accountability to fulfill her promise to the donors. Yang herself admitted to a Beijing journalist that she has problems in managing donations over the years, an admission that was interpreted by critics as a way to deflate the rising suspicion that donations received by Yang had been diverted to purposes other than the dogs.
Never once has Yang revealed to the public how much she has raised over the years. She has however repeatedly claimed that her “rescue” was solely sustained by her own money made from selling two apartments. It is important that worldwide donors stand out to say “Wait a minute. Didn’t I wire $100 or $500 to you, Ms. Yang?” Yang’s never giving credits to donors is not surprising. Claiming she sold her own properties to rescue dogs does help tear apart the hearts of those who come across her “story” for the first time.
I was a donor to Yang. In June 2015, I sent a check of $10,000 to her. Like many others, I was at that time touched by her words, her poems, and the story lines she has repeated for years to most donors. Yet, never has she disclosed my donation in any way. Four of my friends donated to her since 2009 over 150,000 yuan (close to $150,000 in purchasing power in China). She has never acknowledged the help. Instead, she continues to claim to this day that she is spending money from her property sales. Refusal to be transparent is not the worst case scenario. A shelter that has long been maintained like Hitler’s concentration camp, in the words of a friend who visited her shelter twice in the past, is the worst nightmare of compassionate people around the world.
According to “Mr. X” who volunteered not too long ago at Yang’s shelter, donations Yang received have been diverted to purposes other than helping the dogs. She hires no workers. A Beijing actress who wired her biannually money specifically for hiring workers was never used for this purpose. The result is a shelter filled with garbage and dog waste, an absolutely filthy environment that a true animal lover would never tolerate. And this filthy environment partly explains the massive and oppressive skin problems on the dogs in her shelter. It also explains why Yang’s shelter has been constantly driven to different places over the years. The smell of her shelter has turned her erstwhile sympathetic neighbors against her.
Yang refuses to spend money on vets. “I am the best vet,” she was heard saying so to reject suggestions that a vet is necessary to care for the dogs. Some 85% of her dogs had skin problems of various degrees according to a report released by the four activists who paid a visit to Yang’s shelter in September. And, there was no vet supply room in that shelter they visited. A Tianjin activist who has known Yang for many years confirmed Yang’s refusal to seek vet help when new dogs arrived, a time that vet service is critical to evaluate the conditions of the newcomers. The result is mass dog death. “I can pinpoint the locations inside her shelter where dogs were buried amass,” said Mr. X.
Dog are constantly hungry. “She does not feed the dogs on a daily basis,” the volunteer said. “Once she was leaving for a conference and wouldn’t return for five days, she dumped four sacks of chicken skeletons on the ground and filled four basins with water before locking up the shelter,” Mr. X confirmed a practice that has been suspected by local activists for a long time. “When she returned, the dogs were on the verge of revolt out of hunger,” he sighed with anger. In July, one other erstwhile volunteer jumped into Yang’s shelter and recorded in video hungry dogs dying on the ground next to a headless dog covered with maggots. “The dogs had not been fed for days,” he pointed out.
“Is Yang really lack of money for dog food?” as many supporters have believed? “She asked us volunteers to send dog food requests to donors instead of spending money she receives from donors on food,” Mr. X revealed. Fearing that Mr. X may reveal her secrets to the public, Yang slapped a stack of cash for him to shut up. Obviously, Yang would rather spend money to “shut up” others than to feed the dogs.
In January 2014, Yang travelled overseas to Singapore to attend the Asia for Animals Symposium on her “own” money. She arrived at the event on the last day leaving her dogs locked in the shelter hungry. Travelling to Singapore is not cheap. Who was paying for her trip? Donors, without knowing that their money was used to subsidize Yang’s Singaporean trip that turned into a personal leisure tour for Yang having nothing to do with help to the dogs. Apparently, while she had no problems paying for sightseeing in Singapore, how can she have money difficulty feeding the dogs?
Whether Yang is a “hero” or a hoarder or an abuser is no subject of rocket science. Yang may vehemently defend her claim that her shelter is a “paradise,” a term she used to describe her shelter. But, her shelter conditions and the dogs’ physical and mental conditions won’t lie. “What we saw are dogs having coats that show signs of malnutrition, dogs with emaciated looks, and shocking skin problems and signs of other illnesses,” said Mr. Chen of Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association, who was a member of the team that visited Yang’s shelter. “One dog has an external injury so serious that it was followed by several other dogs,” he added. Mr. X once saw a dog in Yang’s shelter lying on its stomach for days and with an offensive smell. “When I lifted him out of the cage, I saw under its belly a huge wound filled with maggots swimming in blood and pus,” he revealed. “Yang paid no attention to this poor dog and let him die slowly,” he said.
There are no perfect shelters in the world. Chinese shelters all have problems of various kinds. Yet, most Chinese shelters are striving to improve conditions. The Home of Love in Chengdu has about 4000 dogs and cats. The shelter is open to the public. It implements vaccination, sterilization and rehoming programs, things never done by Yang. The Home of Love is also an education facility for school children to learn compassion and love for our animal friends. Ping An A Fu in Nanjing also has thousands of dogs that are cared for by hired workers and volunteers. These two shelters both spend large amounts of the donations on workers, vet bills, shelter maintenance, dog and cat food, and other necessary items. “I cannot believe she could starve her dogs like this,” commented Ms. Chen, founder of Home of Love. Ms. Chen also joined the fact-finding team in September.
Yang’s shelter has long been off-limits to the public, thus earning the “honor” to be the second most mysterious place on earth next to North Korea. In 2014, a Guangdong activist who arrived in Tianjin to visit Yang’s shelter was refused admission. Yang’s explanation was that the road to the shelter was flooded. A Canadian charity never got a response from Yang when the charity intended to send somebody to visit her shelter for adoption purposes. When journalists and others visit Yang’s shelter, only certain areas were accessible. Yang claims that hers is a private shelter and she has the right to deny access to strangers. “I agree that the public has no right to ask for a visit only if Yang has never received donations from the public,” commented Yue Yue, a Beijing activist.
Mrs pYang has a lot to explain to the donors and the public in general. She is known around the world as a “retired teacher.” It is revealed recently that she retired from a factory producing auto parts or the like. Yes, teachers are a respected profession in China. Yet, a blue-collar worker can also help animals. She does not need to “cook” her professional history.
Until very recently, Yang had claimed publicly that she had 4200 dogs, 3800 dogs, and 3500 dogs on different occasions. No visitors have ever seen that many dogs in her shelter. “She has no more than 300 dogs at any time,” said Mr. X who once was trusted by Yang. Inflating dog numbers has been a fundraising tool used alongside with sick dogs on her lap in an effort to attract more donations from the compassionate public.
She claimed on Tianjin TV that her sacrifice for animals was rooted in her belief in vegetarianism and that she was a vegetarian herself. The truth is that Yang is a great lover of seafood. “I had dinner with her at least twice in the past and she ordered meat,” said an activist who was with her to at least two conferences. And finally, until very recently, the true identity of a “loyal volunteer” had been hidden from the public. And this is her daughter-in-law known for years as “a volunteer” who helps Yang contact with donors overseas and handle donations for her.
Abusing the compassionate people around the world for donation that never benefits the dogs is unacceptable and potentially criminal in nature. I appeal to Yang’s supporters to send a team of donor representatives, animal welfare experts, veterinarians, accounting specialists, and shelter management experts to visit Yang’s shelter to do an independent evaluation. To get a balanced perspective, this team can also consider visiting a few other Chinese shelters to have a signpost of comparison or reference to see if Yang’s shelter meets the minimum welfare standards of average Chinese shelters. We will all know if Yang is a “hero,” “a symbol,” “a dog lover,” and if her shelter is a “paradise” as she herself claimed on Shanghai TV.
No compassionate people should be misled by false claims. No public resources should go to a hoarding situation that is harming the animals. No donation should go to a shelter that is closed to the donors, run without hired workers and vet service, and one that is not accountable even to the donors. No reporters or critics who question Yang are harassed and threatened. Mrs Yang threatened the New York Times Chinese language website journalist that she would hunt him down and that she would rather poison all her dogs than to surrender her dogs to other shelters).
As a disadvantaged class member in a country that favors the rich and the powerful, Yang is a great actor and has amazing survival skills. Dogs are used as a tool to achieve her goal of “getting rich.” For this purpose, she recites poems, exaggerates her sacrifice, inflates the number of animals in her shelter, threatens critics, deceives and abuses donors worldwide, displays sensational body languages when cameras are rolling around, and brings controversy wherever she appears.
“How can she survive this long as a nuisance and a boarder?” is the question many have asked. “Well, I guess many people choose to ignore her not because she is doing anything right but because she is nasty,” commented Beng. “Didn’t she once fall to the ground and play dead?” Beng added. Playing nasty has helped her get what she would otherwise be denied in a society whose resources are increasingly tilting towards the rich, the successful and the powerful.
There are reputable shelters in China that are open and transparent to the public. These shelters strive to provide the best care to the animals rescued from abuse or the dog meat trade. These shelter managers are low key, have nothing to hide. They have no time writing or reciting poems but devote their time and efforts to the dogs. They seldom mention their sacrifice though they invest time and income on the animals. They acknowledge their donors and are thankful for their support. Most importantly, these shelters vaccinate, sterilize, and try hard to find loving homes for their dogs.
Let’s be compassionate with vigilance. Let’s ask for accountability and transparency. Just as North Korea is no paradise for its own people, Yang Xiaoyun’s shelter is no safe haven for the dogs.
Donors around the world, you have the right to go and visit Yang’s shelters to see for yourselves, her ‘show’ shelter and the others. If you do take this risk, please do visit other Chinese shelters as well to see what a decent and reputable shelter should be.
“We are aware of several false statements made by Mrs. Yang about HSI’s China Policy Specialist, Dr. Peter Li. Without exception, her allegations are without any foundation.
Dr. Li is a well-respected and prominent voice within China’s animal welfare movement, and as such, is called upon by many people and organizations for advice on what is happening within China on animal welfare.
Serious animal welfare concerns have been expressed by animal groups in China about Mrs. Yang’s dog shelter. One way for her to deflect those concerns is to make inflammatory claims in cyberspace about other individuals and organizations.
HSI is member of the Asia Canine Protection Alliance, a leading coalition campaigning to end the cruel dog meat trade. We are also proud to partner with a great many animal shelters in China that are striving to meet our Ten Standards of Animal Welfare (below).
We and others have attempted to determine if Mrs Yang’s shelter meets these standards but have been unable to do so because of a regrettable lack of transparency.”
Ten Standards of Animal Welfare for Shelters
- Adequate and proper food and clean water available for all animals on a daily basis;
- Provision of adequate shelter for all animals in a secure, warm and dry environment, with protocols in place to avoid overcrowding and fighting;
- Quarantine facilities for all incoming animals to avoid spreading disease;
- Provision of regular veterinary care including emergency veterinary aid;
- Hygiene protocols to maintain a clean environment;
- Vaccination and sterilization of animals for disease and birth control;
- Maintenance of a regular, trained workforce with appropriate skills to take care of the animals;
- A rehoming programme in which animals are individually assessed for adoption, and actively promoted for rehoming;
- Transparency and accountability of shelter management: shelters should be open to view by potential adopting families, volunteers, donors and visitors to see for themselves the welfare conditions of the rescued animals and the quality of shelter management.
- Transparency and accountability of fundraising procedures: donations received must be accounted for with an annual report to disclose the funds received and expended. Shelters receiving public donations are obliged to be transparent to the donating public about the number of animals in their care, how donations are to be used, and what outcomes/improvements have resulted from donor support. Shelter owners should be able and willing to provide feedback to the donor community on request.
Peter J. Li, Ph.D.
China Policy Specialist
Humane Society International