A Buddhist monk has rescued 8,000 stray dogs from the streets of Shanghai

A stray dog walks in the middle of an empty street in Shanghai, China.
A stray dog walks an empty street in Shanghai. Chinese cities have a huge population of feral animals, many of which are former pets abandoned by their owners. REUTERS/Aly Song
  • A Buddhist monk has spent nearly three decades rescuing thousands of stray animals in Shanghai.
  • He currently cares for almost 8,000 dogs, along with cats and birds, at his temple and shelter.
  • The animals cost close to $2 million a year to feed and care for. Many are re-homed internationally.
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A Buddhist monk in China is attracting international attention for helping to save thousands of stray dogs from the streets of Shanghai, reported AFP Shanghai.

51-year-old Zhi Xiang has been rescuing animals since 1994 as part of his faith, according to the news agency.

He currently has nearly 8,000 dogs housed at his Bao’en Temple monastery and at an animal shelter he runs in Shanghai, according to AFP.

China’s largest cities are home to millions of stray cats and dogs, often former pets abandoned by their owners, and the population is exploding due to uncontrolled breeding, the Shanghai Daily previously reported. Many do not survive due to starvation, accidents, or illness. Others are rounded up by police and put down.

-AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 22, 2021

“I have to rescue them because if I don’t, they will die for sure,” Zhi told AFP.

He also cares for several hundred cats and assorted other strays such as chickens and peacocks, and wakes up at 4 am to tend to all the animals. In total, they cost about $1.8 million a year to feed and care for, funded by donations.

Thanks to volunteers, some of the animals are re-homed abroad, in the US or Europe.

“I think they’re very happy so I feel it’s worthwhile,” Zhi told AFP. “But of course I miss them.”