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The scientific methods used by IFAW are important because they reflect a humanitarian concern for the animals, says He. That's why animal experts gave local veterinarians training on how to use such methods.

A young local vet told He it had never before occurred to her there was an ethical dimension to veterinary medicine.

"She told me it was a revelation. She used to think of herself as a technician, doing only what she was told," he says.

"A human doctor's purpose is to alleviate human suffering and save lives, and veterinarians do the same for animals," says He. "That single idea was communicated perfectly - and bonded us with the local veterinarians."

Zhou Lebing, head of the local veterinarian association, said he was impressed by the expert team's professionalism and tolerance to filth.

"It was hard, dirty work, but their hearts and souls were into it," said Zhou.

As hard as they worked, the project would have been impossible without local government support, said volunteer Liu Lang, a veterinarian from the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Liu said the government's recent decision to end the culling of stray dogs was particularly wise for the children. Liu said having them watch animals being killed would have further harmed their young psyche already left vulnerable from the quake.

"In a way, their endorsement of our project made people feel that the government took responsibility to help not only humans, but also animals," said Liu.

He also agreed the open cooperation of the local government was an important factor to the success of IFAW in the area.

"Everyday, they sent two local veterinarians who combed the villages with us, to vaccinate the dogs and distribute food door-to-door," said He.

The IFAW program has also been supported outside of local government, He says. Beijing has been supportive and He says he hasn't had a problem recruiting volunteers.

"After the disaster struck, many people came to us wanting to help. We didn't have to advertise. People were ready."

Zhou was most grateful for the help from Beijing.

"I hope they visit again soon," Zhou said. "We still need cages, equipment for euthanasia, antibiotics and motorcycles."

"If they need us, I and other Beijing veterinarians are prepared to return there anytime," said Liu.

(China Daily June 23, 2008)

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