Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Zhang Xiaoqiu still remembers the date - 15 April 2011. It was when Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) changed his life, and he helped to saved the lives 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).
Today, Zhang is a volunteer organiser for the CSAPA. He says there have been more dog rescues, 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 societies and the government. It puts enormous public pressure on these people, so they really have no choice but to take action."
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