September 9, 2010
Street Dog Welfare in China
In the past, dog keeping was discouraged by the Chinese government as a feature of a decadent bourgeois lifestyle, with no legitimacy in socialist China. Watchdogs in rural areas were subjected to government-orchestrated culls. Street dogs were a rare sight in cities.
Unfortunately, they are now common. Abandoned by their former families, they take every scrap of food as if it were their last meal, falling victim to disease, random kicks by heavy boots, oral abuse, city officials bent on eradicating them, and dog meat traders seeking profit.
Too easily discarded
As China's economy has improved, pet keeping has returned to the country, with an estimated 130 million dogs living in China today. Not every owner is an ardent animal lover, however; some are merely chasing fashion. A lack of knowledge about animal behavior and proper care, along with limited accessibility to and affordability of veterinary treatment, has led some to desert their companions when they tire of them.
With urbanization, people have also moved to high-rise apartments, leaving their pets behind. "The Scar of the City" (2010, Xinhua Press), written by Xi Ying, a Chinese animal advocate, depicts in graphic photos the plight of dogs left behind in older residential areas when their families moved to new homes.
Taking action to help
Chinese animal protection NGOs have taken note of the nation’s street dog issue, and shelters have emerged across the country. For example:
- In Chengdu, the Home of Love has taken in more than 1,000 stray and abused dogs. The staff work hard to get the dogs ready for adoption.
- Nanjing’s Ping An A Fu Group has collaborated with the police bureau to encourage responsible pet ownership among pet owners.
- Dalian’s Pet100 has worked hard to promote sterilization as a way to reduce and end the street animal problem.
And since 2009, HSI and Animals Asia Foundation have together sponsored several China dog ownership management conferences with the aim of encouraging responsible pet ownership and humane government policy towards street animals.
HSI is proud to partner with these and other groups as we work to find humane solutions to the problem of street dog overpopulation in China.