It’s a scene that all dog lovers would only dream of: more than 3,000 dogs of all shapes and sizes, with countless wet kisses and happy tail wags to offer around the clock.
But at one animal shelter in Taiwan, it’s a reality.
At Mrs. Hsu’s Sanctuary, a family-owned shelter opened five years ago, dogs outnumber people. Due to the country’s overabundance of stray dogs, the Hsu family slowly began taking in a small population of strays — and that number kept growing until, eventually, a Good Samaritan donated a large facility to serve as a proper shelter.
Now over 3,000 dogs live there as they await their forever homes.
Like the many volunteers who devote countless hours to the dogs, Angel Wang started volunteering at the shelter four years ago because she, too, noticed how many dogs in her community were homeless.
“I really love dogs, but especially the stray dogs,” Wang told The Dodo. “Because there are so many, our shelter has become the largest one in Taiwan.”
Last February, Taiwan became the first country in history to ban the euthanizationof stray dogs as a means of population control. Instead, shelters, including Mrs. Hsu’s Sanctuary, are putting a greater focus on spay and neuter programs — a welcomed change that will hopefully raise more awareness about the impacts of breeding.
While a majority of the stray dogs at the shelter came in as strays, many were rescued from car and motorbike accidents or gin traps, which are steel spring traps put out by farmers to keep animals away from crops. They usually end up snaring unsuspecting dogs in the process.
“We have a vet in our shelter, but if the dog has an injury that is too critical, they’re brought to a local animal hospital,” Wang said. “We have a number of dogs with missing legs or paralysis in the back legs.”
In addition to an array of full-time employees and volunteers, the shelter also has a special supporter who builds custom, low-cost wheelchairs for any dog resident who needs them.
In addition to veterinary care, the shelter also offers a large-scale grooming room, a night room for the stray dogs to sleep in and a special room just for cats.
Since many of the dogs are strays and are used to the company of other dogs, they generally spend daytime out in the “park,” which gives them the opportunity to play with one another and go for walks with volunteers.
Wang especially enjoys the one-on-one time with the stray dogs — and has even met her best friend in the process. One day in December 2015, Wang spotted a shaggy, sweet-looking gray dog who had just been brought in as a stray.
“She was immediately very kind to me and wanted to sit on the floor and play all day,” Wang said. “Every time I’d go to the volunteer, she would spot me and would walk beside me for the rest of the day. I eventually started calling her Huei Huei, which means ‘gray.’”
As the months rolled on, the time Huei Huei spent in the shelter turned into years. But Wang continued paying special care to her — and in March 2017, she officially brought her home.
“She touched my heart,” Wang said. “We became such good friends.”
While the amount of stray dogs surely outnumbers staff members and volunteers, people throughout the community work around the clock to care for the dogs — and are fully funded by the donations of local people who believe in their mission.
“I love being with the dogs and seeing them happy,” Wang said. “Their smiles are my favorite part.”
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H/T: The Dodo