1st China Companion Animal Symposium is a wonderful success!!
Hosted by Animals Asia, 32 local groups gather in Guangzhou on 25 March 2006!
Jill opens the Symposium
All attendees of the Symposium
Animals Asia proudly hosted and organised the first ever China Companion Animal Symposium in Guangzhou on 25th March 2006. The ground-breaking event saw 32 groups from across China join together to share the many problems they face and call with one voice for new solutions to help dogs and cats in China. It is estimated that these 32 groups represent 250,000 people!
Animals Asia Ambassador and Mandarin voice of Dr. Eddie, Richie Jen, welcomed everyone to the symposium with a specially recorded video message - sharing his love for companion animals and stating "there are millions of people in China who love animals, hopefully through this symposium we can help people join together to create a better future for dogs and cats."
Many of the groups present, have only recently been established - often as a result of the SARS outbreak in 2003 which saw thousands of dogs and cats being dumped by their terrified owners, or in response to cruel pet culls that periodically happen in various cities across the country. As each group shared their stories, their heartache, and their hope for the future, the emotion and support in the room was tangible as delegates cheered each small victory and wept over animals lost. Ms. Yu Shujing from the Hainan Small Animal Protection Association spoke of selling her home and her car so that she could help more animals, whilst Ms. Ha Wenjing from Nanjing Animal Rescue, said she'd even had to divorce her husband - "I can live without him, I cannot live without my dogs" she said. Many groups also expressed their gratitude to Animals Asia for organising the symposium and thanked the media for helping to amplify their voice.
Jill gave a moving presentation highlighting the plight of China's companion animals, which left many audience members openly weeping at the heart-breaking images of dogs and cats being exploited for their meat and fur, and in the growing pet trade. Jill also spoke about the terrible 'crush' videos that have been circulating the internet in China, which depict a woman crushing a kitten, puppy and rabbit to death with her stiletto shoe. "If anything 'good' can come out of the crush videos it is the outrage it sparked in people's hearts across the country - I really felt then that there was hope to see such an outpouring of shame and disgust from animal lovers and caring responsible citizens here in China - just look at the things we CAN do together with one powerful voice. "
Appealing to everyone present to give dogs and cats the best chance possible, our first 2 landmark resolutions were passed:
- It was resolved to end the despicable trade in dogs and cats for their meat, and also for their fur. The resolutions were passed with a resounding "Yes!" from every single person present!
In the afternoon, Paul Littlefair from the RSPCA UK, and Zhang Lu Ping, Founder of Beijing Human & Animals Environmental Protection Education Centre, gave practical presentations on Shelter Management, stressing the importance of de-sexing and re-homing of stray dogs and cats. Zhang Luping cares for over 600 animals at her shelter, but dreams one day that "our organisations won't exist and that no animals will need our help. I am sure this dream will come true, because a harmonious society with animals is the best society that we can ever have."
We were also incredibly honoured to have Professor Song Wei, from the University of Science and Technology of China, to present on "The New Trend of Legislation and Amending Animal Welfare Law in China." Professor Song outlined the importance of comprehensive laws to protect animals, rather than 'control' them, but also noted that "the presence of law is not sufficient, we also need peoples' attitudes and awareness to reflect these new laws - the social culture needs to change so that the legislation is effective."
News of the symposium was widely covered in the national media, including articles in the following outlets: Guangzhou Daily, Nanfang Daily, Xinhua News Agency, New Express Daily, Yang Cheng Evening News, Legal Daily (nationwide), Sina.com, Sohu.com, Guangdong TV, Guangzhou TV.
Our newly appointed Guangzhou Dr. Dogs, Dr. Pea Pea and Dr. Mao Mao also made a special guest appearance and charmed everyone, posing for pictures and showing just what wonderful ambassadors for their species they are.
The day ended with 3 more ground-breaking resolutions, which passed with 100% support:
- It was resolved to call on the government to implement countrywide de-sexing programmes,
- To commit to far-reaching responsible pet ownership initiatives,
- To agree to work together and with the Government to create positive change.
The over-riding feeling at the end of the symposium was one of hope and inspiration - encapsulated by Jill's closing statement: "Together we are the change for dogs and cats here in China, and together we can change their world for the better."
Video playback of superstar Richie Jen in his specially prepared message for the Symposium
Ms. Ha Wenjing from Nanjing Animal Rescue weeps as she describes the hardships she has faced saving animals
Professor Song Wei interviewed by Guangdong TV
Zhang Lu Ping, Founder of Beijing Human & Animals Environmental Protection Education Centre, gives her presentation on shelter management
Newly appointed Dr. Dog Mao Mao and his owner pose in front of the backdrop
Mr. Wu Jun of Zhuhai Animal Protection Association thanks the media for their support