Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

China:~Shelter Owner, Burnt In Fire, Rescued By Rescuing Dogs

"Mother of dogs" rises from the fire.

Read this extraordinary story of a remarkable, brave woman who now dedicates her life to animals:

Inside an ordinary rental house in Zhengzhou, lives a special family, one human, four dogs and a cat. Although they are of different species, all of them have had the same rough experience in life. This helps to bond them together. 

Chu Hui is the “mother” of the family, she was severely disfigured in a car accident. Both her hands are disfigured but she doesn’t show any sign of depression or low self-esteem; instead, she has a sense of humour, common in people from the Northeast of China, talking about her 'daughter' and her 'son' as her precious family members.

Chu Hui has a large Tibetan mastiff she calls Da Nui (Big Girl). This breed is generally perceived as ferocious and aggressive but Da Nui is exceptionally friendly. She doesn’t show hostility to strangers, instead she shows a friendly wag of her tail. Chu Hui always jokes how Da Nui is able to live among Tibetan mastiffs with her docile nature. Lao Gougou (Old Doggie) is a 16 year old blind dog who lives with Chu Hui. This old chubby boy was saved by Chu Hui from the market. She paid 6 Yuan per catty (system of weight) in exchange for his life. There is another white poodle. Chu Hui found him on a rubbish tip and named him Douding (Beanie). This little guy is the jealous type. Whenever he sees anyone near Chu Hui he will chase them off.

Chu Hui’s family members are not the only ones at home. She is the person in charge of Zhengzhou Stray Animals Rescue Shelter. There are 300 dogs at 2 separate shelters, Chu Hui’s daily life revolves around all of these dogs. Cats are cared for by fosterers. In order to take care of the shelter expenses she needs to get up early in the morning to sell trousers at the market. Basically she spends almost all her earnings on her animals.

Chu Hui originated from an average family from Shenyang. She used to be the envy of everyone with her beauty and cheerful personality. She moved to Zhengzhou when she was 21 years old after graduating from college. A typical ambitious business minded young lady, she had her own business. 

Chu Hui married her now ex-husband on February 3, 1996. There were happier days until a car accident a year later. On that day, Chu Hui drove her car but met with an accident on the highway near Lianyungang. 64% of her body was burnt, her face was disfigured and the fire burnt off her nose and fingers. She spent four months in the hospital having 12 surgeries which cost her parents 200,000 Yuan. 16 years have passed. We can never understand how she endured the physical and mental torture. Chu Hui left the hospital before she was fully healed. Her husband was rarely home and always used the excuse about having to earn more money for her treatment and not being able to take her outside as her look would frighten someone. This cold response was like rubbing salt in to her bleeding wounds. She divorced her husband and hid away in her home.

She lamented the injustices of fate in her life and asked why this had happened to her because she had never done anything bad in life. She attempted suicide by cutting her wrists but was discovered by her parents. She took sleeping pills only to wake up three days later. She thought since fate wouldn’t let her die, there must be a purpose for her to live. She then sent her parents back to Shenyang and took the bravest steps, to begin to live on her own. 
Stares and whispers from strangers were like a sharp knife that pierced through her heart and hurt her terribly. For years Chu Hui shut herself away from the outside world with her only companion, a dog called Jia Jia. The dog accompanied her through the most difficult periods of her life. One day her only friend went missing accidentally. Chu Hui searched hysterically for her only companion. She posted notices, checked on markets, but all to no avail. During this time, Chu Hui found many stray dogs and one by one she took them back and care for them. As the number of her children grew, eventually she became the person in charge of stray shelter. 

Life being a mother of dogs is not easy but it is full of fun. Once a week, Chu Hui prepares “Wowo Tou” (A Northern Chinese cone-shaped steamed dumpling made of ground maize and eaten by the poor) for her furry children. She uses cornmeal, whole wheat flour, milk, chicken, chicken livers and other stuffing as treats in the bun. Usually it takes Chu Hui a day to prepare Wowo Tou before it is ready but she is happy that this bun certainly has enough nutrition for the dogs. 

It has been 16 years since the car accident and Chu Hui is now 43 years old. When she talks about the future, Chu Hui feels like a little girl. She says there are many suitors after her but she thinks they are not compatible for her. Although Chu Hui was married before, she wasn’t really in love. She says she still wants to feel the magic of falling in love one day.

Photos sourced & translated by NT.

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