In a previous blog A Conspiracy of Charity ~ East meets West. we examined and queried in detail a copy of a lengthy statement called ‘It Is Time That Ms.Yang Xiaoyun Gives an Explanation ~ A Joint Statement from Chinese Animal Protection Groups‘ issued by ‘Vshine Animal Protection Group’, a local HSI partner organization in China. This statement, dated September 9, 2015, was produced by four people who ostensibly took it upon themselves to ‘investigate’ Mrs Yang (Yang Xiaoyun). However, recent FB posts and comments made by Peter Li, a China policy specialist of Humane Society International, have now brought into question involvement of HSI in that ‘Joint Statement’. The statement published on Weibo dated September 9, 2015 was accompanied by a list of 60 Chinese animal welfare groups purporting to endorse the statement. We understand that some of the groups listed objected to being included and can only wonder if other groups may have also queried their inclusion?
On September 16 2015 the four person investigation team paid a visit to Mrs Yang in Tianjin; subsequently publishing another statement called ‘An Investigative Report on the Conditions of Yang Xiaoyun’s Shelter in Tianjin‘ on Weixin dated September 21 2015 (bilingual version). While this report, English version, is being used on western social media to reinforce the current campaign to defame Mrs Yang, the rebuttals (see below) by, and on behalf of, Mrs Yang have been ignored.
Readers of our series of blogs about Mrs Yang will be aware of the large sum of money involved; one can only wonder if this has any bearing on why these reports are being produced, and if so, who commissioned them, and for what reason. Mrs Yang has been offering sanctuary to dogs and cats for almost two decades, so one would think these allegations would have been brought to the public attention many years ago if indeed concerns were so serious regarding the welfare of the animals she has rescued; be they strays or in fact dogs/cats rescued from Yulin. However, this public ‘outrage’ by animal welfare agencies in China seems to have arisen since the No To Dog Meat charity fundraiser appealed to the public to donate to help Mrs Yang in June 2015; where were all these outraged animal welfare groups and activists 5 years, last year, or even 6 months ago?
Not a lot more need be said by us about the highly defamatory report produced by the ‘4-people-visit-team’, other than noting the lack of an ‘official’ comment via the charity CEO Julia de Cadenet, apart from her speaking to a journalist (rather than directly to the donors) via a New York Times China blog. Mrs Yang’s simple, but powerful, statement of rebuttal of the report, published on Weibo, we have had translated into English.
We hope that readers will find the time to read both the ‘4-people-visit-team’ so-called investigative report and the responses made by, and on behalf of, Mrs Yang. It is important to point out that the team only visited Mrs Yang’s ‘new’ shelter accommodation at Tianjin. Comments are most welcome.
An online petition: The ‘Yes And Now Group’ are Petitioning William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission and 7 others: INVESTIGATE the UK registered charity #1154524 known as ‘No To Dog Meat’ (NTDM aka WPDCMT)
MRS YANG REBUTTAL TO INVESTIGATIVE REPORT – 22 SEPTEMBER 2015:
Does the so-called Animal Protection Organization have the right to investigate other organizations and individuals?
With regards to the so-called “investigation” conducted by a 4-people-visit-team and their untruthful report afterwards, we hereby issue our statement as follows:
Regarding the police: They arrived at our shelter without notifying us in advance. Since we did not know the purpose of their visit, and because of the intrusion we experienced previously, and for the safety of dogs and people, we chose to call the police. And it is proven that calling the police was the wisest choice we made. We went through the night peacefully thanks to this third party. We made an appointment with them to visit the next day. Since Auntie Yang saw someone in their team who was a friend she had known for over a decade, Auntie Yang naturally lowered her guard and let them enter the shelter. This was the first and biggest mistake we made. When there were confrontations between the two parties, there were no witnesses. The next day when we arrived at the shelter, Auntie Yang’s son was already there. With strangers in the shelter, who didn’t identify themselves, he told them not to take any pictures and videos. From the pictures, it is shown that the dogs were not yet in the cages. Whenever we enter we must have something in our hands to urge the dogs to move, and such a tool was exaggerated as “a 30-yr-old heavily built man holding a steel stick threatening us not to film… Yang told him to stop”. As everyone has their entire original article, I’ll just specify those parts in which they purposely altered the truth. And the truth is Auntie’s son was holding a broom, a tool that is used to urge the dogs to move. This is already confirmed by Jiang Hong in the 4-people-team who clearly described that it was a broom. I asked her why she said it was a “steel stick” when she clearly knew it was just a broom. She did not give me a direct answer.
Since both parties did not take videos of the shelter, the situation of the shelter became mysterious to those who are concerned about the case of Yang XiaoYun. Everybody who works in a shelter knows there will be faeces and urine everywhere in the morning when there are dogs in the shelter. It takes time to clean, and this can’t be controlled. With the lack of workers, we are doing our best to keep the shelter clean. We only have one worker and limited ability. But how did that so-called investigation report tell the truth? “Extremely filthy, urine & faeces everywhere, intolerably stinky” are the phrases they used. What are they trying to reveal to the world? That Yang XiaoYun’s shelter is a dump? How would you react if I came to your shelter and discovered urine & faeces everywhere and immediately announced to the world that your shelter is a filthy dump? Don’t your dogs pee & poo? Don’t you hire any workers to clean?
Regarding skin conditions, when the 4-people-team mentioned about the skin diseases, we indicated that our shelters do have dogs with skin problems. As most of the dogs we rescue are strays, it is very common for strays to have skin diseases. Everybody who runs animal shelters should know this. They provided some suggestions and we modestly accepted. We also told them that the Beijing-Tianjin urgency medical team, and CangHai team, has always been treating our animals. Beijing Pet Hospital is the organization that is treating the 707 dogs, and there are discussions about setting up a surgery room with Garfield team providing a surgery bed & equipment. But in their article, they described “Look at this shelter, 85% are having skin diseases of different levels.” Where did they get that 85%? Did they count them one by one?
About a female dog’s shedding uterus: I don’t want to explain, except it is a male dog. Did you even look clearly at what is the precise condition? And you made a judgement? The CangHai team have already taken that dog. Their vet will tell the truth with pictures!
About the number of dogs:
Did you really count? How many of our shelters did you go to? We let you go to the abandoned building, we let you go to the 707 shelter, but why didn’t you go? Didn’t you want to investigate, to tell the truth? You didn’t even go to all our shelters, how did you tell the truth?
I took out a big pile of foreign donations receipts, explained to everyone how much we have received from overseas in detail. Did anyone raise any questions? Who said “now we can confirm you did not receive much money, confirm you only received about GBP 10,000 donations from overseas”? And now you altered the story!
During our meeting, one person from their team mentioned about the past where they had taken 2 dogs from our shelter. Since it was heard that dogs from Yang XiaoYun couldn’t make it out alive, they requested to take dogs that were relocated to Yang XiaoYun from others. In the end, 2 healthy dogs were taken. The rumour was broken. But how come they did not mention this in the report?
Seeing all the ham at our shelter entrance on the day of their visit, they said “You bought so much ham, so you’re not starving the dogs. But ham is not good for dogs, can easily cause skin diseases”.
As of now, I still cannot accept the fact that these people said they were here to help us, and that the article they issued is extreme and inciting. We were 100% modest in accepting their advice in the hope of a fair and objective investigation result. But they wrote a deluded and misleading article to defame a 70-yr-old elderly lady. Were you here to help the dogs or endanger the dogs? You want to starve the dogs to death by blocking all Yang XiaoYun’s financial sources? You said you wanted to resolve the issue, otherwise it’s no good for all the people working in animal rescue. True, you’re not beating just one Yang XiaoYun, you’re actually beating the entire animal rescue community. If you think Yang XiaoYun is bad, then who can do better than Yang XiaoYun?! Who could guarantee that they wouldn’t become the next “Yang XiaoYun”?! Now with so many people saying things and doing things to distance themselves, I understand they’re protecting themselves, but does what you say and what you do really just represent you individually, and not represent any organizations? Is what you do and what you say the true thinking of the representatives of all animal rescue organizations?
Lastly, we still want to thank the 4-people-team who came to investigate. We modestly accept your advice, and will continue to improve our shelter management. We welcome you to investigate again in 6 months time. There’s no need to climb walls, our door will be wide opened.
(Extra note: Face-changing is a special technique used in Sichuan Opera art to create characters. It is a romantic way to reveal a character’s emotion in the drama. “Face-Changing” has been put on Sichuan opera stage and has become a very unique art.)
Chinese Citizens Speak Out Against Mrs Yang’s 4 Inquisitors.
Comments from Wang Li on Weibo – September 21, 2015:
Despicable people, STOP! Yang XiaoYun is just an elderly woman, an elderly woman who sold her house to save dogs, she doesn’t represent any group, she doesn’t represent any organization, she only represents herself individually. It is the media, and those animal activists across the country, that have put this elderly woman in turmoil, and pushed her towards the highest edge of public opinion. How many have harmed her during this period? How many have insulted her? How many have silenced her? She’s scared, isn’t that normal? Did you count how much she needs to feed so many dogs everyday? Did you see her cry when seeing the dogs die and there’s nothing she can do? There are so many programs praising her work on Tencent and PhTV, why not share them across?
From your original statement, you said you’re from Chongqing, Chengdu, and Xian, yet the place to be investigated is in Tianjin. So who do you represent? Do you represent those 3 regions? Do you represent the persons-in-charge of the animal protection groups in those 3 regions? Or all animal protection activists in those 3 regions? Were you officially authorized by them? Or do you represent those who question and boycott Yang XiaoYun? Or do you represent all activist in China? I believe you’re not qualified, not legally, not socially, nor politically, all of you are not qualified. I therefore want to know whom you represent? And who authorized you? What was the purpose of your visit?
Abuse is the infliction of injury or insult on another person, and the abuser receives satisfaction and excitement during the process. Behavior of abuse includes beating, biting, wiping, flogging, strangling…etc. Did Yang XiaoYun behave in these ways? Do you have any eye witness? Do you have any visual and audio evidence? Who made such accusation of abuse, who is the judge? Court in Tianjin? The highest court in China? Or simply from the words of those who boycott Yang XiaoYun?
500 representatives from animal groups defend Mrs Yang.
We only have rough translation of this screen shot:
“500 representatives from animal groups confronted & scolded Chen Mincai (of Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association) for writing bad reports about Mrs Yang. The 4 ‘investigators’ were initially very nice to her & told her they would help her improve her shelter. They were so nice, she even invited them for dinner. But they didn’t do what they promised & even worse than not helping they said such bad things about her.”
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT FROM CHINESE ACTIVISTS – SEPT 20th 2015:
Submitted by the Representatives of the Four Animal Protection Groups on behalf of the Co-signing Organizations 20.9.2015
We, Chen Mincai (director of Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association), Chen Yunlian (founder of Chengdu Shuangliu Home of Love Animal Rescue Center), Jiang Hong (founder, Xi’an Red Pomegranate Companion Animal Protection Association), and Yue Yue (member of Beijing Garfield Cat Animal Protection Volunteers), would like to present to you a report on our visit on September 17th to the shelter of Yang Xiaoyun in Tianjin. To seek truth from facts, have first-hand information, set the record straight, and to verify the claims made by the critics regarding Ms. Yang’s shelter and dogs, claims cited in the joint statement co-signed by animal protection groups across the country, we, on our own expenses, arrived in Tianjin to conduct the on-site investigation. The findings presented here are what we saw and experienced at Yang Xiaoyun’s shelter.
1. Our interactions with Yang Xiaoyun and her family
We arrived at Yang’s old shelter in the afternoon of September 16. The shelter was empty. Dogs had been moved to Yang’s new shelter. When we showed up at Yang’s new shelter, we saw an agitated and hostile Yang who went so far as to call the police. Seeing that we were handling the situation calmly, Yang might have realized that she had overreacted to our surprise appearance. She agreed to have us back to the shelter the next day morning. We arrived at the shelter in the morning of September 17th. With Yang’s consent, we walked into the shelter. However, we were met by a 30-year old and physically strong man who was holding an steel rod in one hand and taking pictures of us on the other hand. He shouted that no picture taking was allowed. We later learned from Yang that this was her son. We also met with Yang’s daughter-in-law who was with us for the rest of the day.
2. Photos and Videos
Yang’s son made it clear to us that no photos and videos were allowed in the shelter as soon as we entered the shelter. To avoid conflict, we did not take photos or shoot videos.
3. The number of dogs in the shelter we visited
According to Ms. Yang, this shelter is 666 square meters in size. We agree that the size of the shelter was about 1 mu (666 square meters). As to the number of dogs in this shelter, Yang could not provide an accurate number. The shelter has some constructions that could take up about 100 square meters. The rest of the more than 500 square meters is good for 300 to 400 dogs. If there were 500 dogs, Yang’s estimate of the dogs there, the shelter would be extremely crowded. We therefore estimated that there were no more than 400 dogs.
Yang said that she had two shelters of 1 mu in space each. The third shelter is smaller in size. The number of dogs in the other two shelters is unknown. We believe the number of dogs in the smallest shelter should be smaller. It is up to others who care about the dongs in Yang’s shelter to find out the number of dogs in the other two shelters. We do not want to speculate here.
4. The total number of dogs under Yang’s care
How many dogs Yang has under her care? This is a major concern of the critics in China and overseas. Yang claimed not too long ago in a program of Tianjin TV that she had more than 4000 dogs in her shelters. We asked Yang if she really had this many dogs. She replied that the 4000 dog number was suggested to her by the producer of Tianjin TV. We asked further how many dogs she had indeed then. She said that she should have more than 2000 dogs.
Therefore, Yang admitted that her claim of 4000 dogs on Tianjin TV was a far cry from the 2000 dogs she said she had in her shelters. Yang’s shelter is altogether 3 mu (1998 square meters) in size. Three mu is hardly big enough for 2000 dogs.
5. Conditions of the Dogs
The dogs in the shelter we visited were in shocking conditions. We are extremely worried about the dogs. More than 85% of the 400 or so dogs have skin illnesses of various severity. Yang admitted that the dogs were in very poor health conditions. The skin problems were so serious among some dogs who barely had any hair left on their bodies. Others may have suffered a long time from the skin problems. One of the female dogs had her womb out of her genitals. The poor dog was followed by a few big dogs. Seeing the shocking conditions of the dogs, we, animal protectionists ourselves, were at a loss for words to describe our shock and disbelief.
6. Shelter Sanitation
A clean and well-maintained shelter is the first defense against illnesses and the spread of illnesses. Yang’s shelter, utterly dirty, covered with dog waste, and offensively smelly, was not cleaned for two days. Yang admitted that no one had cleaned the shelter for two days. We pointed out that daily cleaning is a must. We asked if Yang was following this rule. Her answer shocked us and was totally unacceptable. She said: “You would have dog waste on the ground even if you clean the shelter eight times a day.”
Seeing the ugly situation of the shelter, we decided to help remove the dog waste. Yet, to our surprise, there were no tools for cleaning the shelter. The only thing we found was a dust collection pan that was broken. We wondered if workers who have to bring cleaning tools from their own homes. In desperation, we purchased some tools for cleaning from a nearby store.
7. Shelter Workers
In response to our criticism of the shelter being unacceptably filthy, Yang and her daughter-in-law defended their negligence saying “Yang had difficulty doing it all by herself.” We told them that shelters with hundreds of dogs and cats must have permanent workers to take care of the dogs and the shelter. By looking at the unacceptable sanitation situation and the fact that there were no even tools for shelter cleaning, we believe that Yang hired nobody to do the job.
8. Yang’s Admissions
Yang admitted that she failed in three areas:
- She admitted that she exaggerated the number of the dogs under her care in media interviews.
- She admitted that her shelter was poorly managed and that the shelter was filthy, illness was prevalent, and management was nonexistent.
- She admitted that her dogs were in poor health conditions.
Yang made the following promise: She would improve conditions in her shelter in the next 3 to 6 months.
9. A summary of our findings and recommendations
- Criticism that Yang’s shelters are filthy is fair. It is not libel or slander. It is fact. We confirmed that the criticism was correct. Yang admitted that her shelters were dirty.
- The criticism that Yang has inflated her dog numbers is fair and has been supported by fact. She admitted that she exaggerated her dog number on Tianjin TV.
- The criticism that Yang has ignored her animals and that her shelter is far from a “paradise” was supported by what we have witnessed. The prevalence of the skin problems in her shelter is a living proof of Yang’s failure to care for her dogs.
Yang should attach greater importance to the welfare of the dogs under her care. She should take immediate measures to:
- hire full-time workers to ensure that the dogs are taken care for 12 hours a day and to feed the dogs, do cleaning, and handle other shelter matters.
- start immediate veterinary intervention to help the dogs with skin problems.
- ensure that the dogs are fed twice a day and they have clean water around the o’clock.
- Open the shelters to local animal lovers, allow people to take photos and welcome volunteers
- Be transparent and release on a regular basis fund-raising results and conditions of the dogs.