There are some people whose passion for helping others blow our minds. One of those individuals is Justine Kwok, who after studying fashion design in the UK moved back to her home city of Hong Kong to start her own line of vegan pet products and accessories. It was then that she first learned of China’s horrendous dog meat trade and instantly began volunteering with Animals Asia to help put an end to the system. The experience changed her life.

She left fashion and began to pursue an online degree in Animal and Human Health. Around the same time, her father started an organic farm in Zhongshan, China, with a few companion animals and the intention to build a small petting zoo.  She got on board when the animals started multiplying and the lack of proper management and veterinary care became serious concerns. Within two years, the farm had about 100 farm animals with staff of caretakers. However, the idea of a “zoo” did not sit well with Kwok and instead, the farm became a sanctuary for the animals where they would be protected, but not used as entertainment.

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“About six months ago, we started offering our first animal and nature-based experiential programs with the goals of nurturing love, respect, empathy and compassion towards non-human animals, and inspiring a more harmonious, reciprocal, holistic and sustainable way of living. In the future, I am hoping to offer animal-assisted therapy programs to those with special needs,” she told Animals Asia.

Not only does the sanctuary act as a haven for farm animals, but it also shelters dogs rescued from the meat trade, Kwok’s first passion.

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The hundreds of organic plants and herbs grown on the farm provide a variety of fresh and healthy vegetables that are sold on to the local hotels. These include: Italian dandelion, curly kale, radish, carrots, red lettuce, Wolfberry leaves, and Swiss chard.

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In addition, the team is growing herbal alternatives to bear bile. “…We’re looking forward to displaying an education board that shows why these and the synthetic alternatives must be the future to replace caged and suffering bears in China today,” she said.

Kwon’s story of trading in her career in fashion to help animals and her community shows that anyone can make a difference in the lives of others, especially those of our four-legged friends.

All image source: Animals Asia