A Chinese police dog handler became a social media sensation after a video featuring the retirement home he built for the animals went viral with thousands of online users praising his actions.
Netizens have been praising 55-year-old Bai Yan from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, after he reportedly used all his savings to create a home for his retired canine friends back in 2010.
According to The Beijing News (via the South China Morning Post), this was the officer’s way of saying “thank you” to them for their service and devotion to the force.
The sanctuary, which sits on a strip of hillside land that Bai rented from a friend, has so far sheltered 26 dogs over the years, reports CGTN.
At present, it is now holding 16 dogs, which includes one of Bai’s closest canine buddies, 10-year-old Xiaolong.
Local reports, which have recently featured Bai and his dog shelter, noted that Bai was also instrumental in putting together the first specialist canine team at his bureau in 2004.
“They are my comrades in arms,” Bai was quoted as saying. “And now they are getting old, I want them to be able to spend their remaining years with dignity.”
Bai, who does most of the caring himself, comes to the home three times a day to visit the dogs. He prepares the dogs’ breakfast at 4 a.m., and takes time to bond with them all individually.
Before letting the dogs roam around the complex to play, he ensures that they are given their medical checks.
Every day, he brings a different one of them to work so he has more time to bond with them.
“I want to be there to make them happy in the last years of their lives,” Bai said, adding that he even spends his weekends and holidays with his four-legged pals.
Such a facility requires a significant amount of money to maintain. So far, the upkeep and renovations to the compound, including the cost of the dogs’ food and health care, have amounted to about 1 million yuan ($150,000).
His efforts have ensured a safe place for the animals, who in the past were simply put up for public adoption or given to the handlers themselves once they became too old or weak to work as a police dog.
Witnessing one such dog being neglected by its new owner prompted Bai to start his project.
“I saw he [the dog] was chained up and lying on the ground outside the front door next to a bowl of soured leftovers. His hair was all dirty and messy,” he said.
Bai took action to protect the working dogs, which he has considered as family.
“It’s probably only 10 years that I get to spend with them, but to them, I am almost their whole life,” he said. “If they are neglected, they quickly become depressed.”
Bai added that he has turned down monetary donations from others as he considers caring for the dogs as his personal responsibility.
“They have fought with me side by side for many years,” he said. “They are just like my family, and I will take care of my family by myself.”
According to BBC, social media users in China have collectively showered Bai with praises for his selfless actions.
A Weibo user wrote that Bai is “worth our admiration. We should see more of this [behavior] across the nation,” adding that, “After all, these dogs are civil servants.”
Other netizens have dubbed the dogs “national heroes” who deserve to be given a pension for their contributions to the country.
Feature Image via Youtube / CGTN