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Woman's Crusade to Save Homeless Pets
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For the past 10 years Zhang Luping has dedicated her life to helping abandoned animals.


And she has also been a leading figure in pushing for the protection of animals by law.


Despite an annual expenditure of 1 million yuan (US$125,000) for the upkeep of the centre which homes more than 600 deserted pets, her desire to do more grows and grows.


She began her voluntary role in rescuing cats, dogs and other animals from the streets of Beijing a decade ago.


Zhang, who is in her 50s, is now known as one of the capital's leading animal protection workers.


Thousands of people have visited the centre since it was opened last year to learn more about the treatment and care of animals.


The site covers 2.66 hectares in Xiaotangshan in northwestern Beijing.


It was set up after the number of abandoned dogs and cats increased greatly due to the outbreak of SARS in 2003, as many people feared animals could pass on the epidemic to humans.


Zhang told China Daily she receives donations from several related overseas institutes from the United States and the UK to run the complex.


"How can I see an abandoned dog strolling around the dangerous roads without lending a hand?" said Zhang.


Her respect and care for all living creatures has motivated her charity efforts.


She rescues abandoned animals all over the city, from dustbins to isolated roadsides.


Sick animals are also collected from pet hospitals, which are sometimes left there because owners cannot afford medical fees.


Many of the pets arrive at the centre in poorly conditions.


Zhang said the centre helps to raise the profile of the need to protect and look after animals.


It is seen as an educational facility to promote the welfare of animals.


The complex receives flocks of visitors, from kindergarten kids to college students and has also attracted hundreds of volunteers.


People are allowed to clean, feed and treat some of the sick animals.


Visits to the centre can be heartbreaking for many people, both young and old.


One four-year-old boy broke down in tears when he saw a disabled abandoned dog during a tour recently.


The youngster, from the Beijing-based Blue Sky Kindergarten, said: "I'll never hurt animals I'm a good boy and seeing this will make me even better."


Zhang spends a lot of her time pushing for animals to have more protection under the law.


"I'll never give up my efforts in pushing for laws for more protection for animals, although it requires so much time and patience," she said.


When talking about similar centers overseas, she said she was impressed by the devotion and kindness of their staff workers.


"The workers here are working for payment. However, those in the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore are doing the job voluntarily and really are pet lovers."


The centre has a dozen members of paid staff, most of them migrant workers.


Although it has many volunteers, there is still a need for more people to come forward to ensure it can keep running.


"I have full confidence in both myself and my centre," said Zhang. 


(China Daily January 13, 2006)

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