As we fast approach the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese zodiac, then there is no time like the present to bring to light stray dogs and the dog adoption business in China.
Well known is the Yulin Dog festival around the world; that foreigners generally assume that the Chinese reserve their canine thoughts for the wok. However, this could not be farther from the truth for modern urban dwellers.
Nevertheless, it is true that the outskirts of most cities and the countryside indeed still string dogs up in the market bound for the lazy Susan, but nowadays, for the most sophisticated of city slickers, owning a pooch is a status symbol and much more.
A report by Xinhua News (sourced from Global Times) says that according to official reports, pet dog ownership in China has reached 27.4 million, ranking third behind the US and Brazil. Dog ownership began as a status of wealth in city dwellings, however, nowadays it seems the Chinese have a genuine love for their selected pups.
In addition, to keep abreast of changing lifestyles, pets are treated as family members. Buddhism teaches us that all life forms should be treated with equal respect. While on one hand, this has resulted in canine services such as Nanjing’s first pet cemetery; on the other, pet products are becoming increasingly “human” and sophisticated.
Nis Peter Lorentzen, Co-Founder & CEO of Doctors Beck & Stone, a Hong Kong based pet care specialist with clinics all over China told The Nanjinger, “When you humanise your pet, a lot of people think that means just love. But that’s not true. It’s exercise, discipline and then love”.
The flipside of this growing awareness of animal rights and welfare is a rise in the numbers of stray dogs that have either been dumped, run away, neglected or born on the street. These dogs have found themselves up for adoption, supported by the many charities that have sprung up in their assistance.
This week saw the celebration of “Adoption Day” throughout China, with 38 cities taking part, including Nanjing. Problems associated with stray dogs include, “dog bites, rabies, noise pollution, and overcrowded dog shelters… Potential adopters need pay a fee of ¥300, which covers the cost of animal registration, microchip implant and vaccinations. Staff from the adoption service visit to check up on the adopted dogs on a regular basis”, reported Xinhua.
Pet adoption in China is becoming just as prevalent in its society as it is around the world. More stray dogs are spotted roaming the streets every day as well as boxes of dumped puppies. However, with Adoption Days, shelters and responsible dog owners, hopefully an alleviation of strays can become the rule, rather than the exception.