years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Media frenzy and big smiles greet launch in bustling border city
Dr Nini works his magic on five-year-old Sze-wai, who normally has no interest in her surroundings.
Dr Helen makes a big impact on her first Dr Dog visit to an elderly people’s home.
Our Dr Dogs are now bringing comfort and healing to people in need in Shenzhen – the booming Chinese city bordering Hong Kong.
With local animal welfare group Shenzhen Dog Website working as our Dr Dog support group, we recruited 24 tail-wagging “hopefuls” and their owners to come along to the first assessments in January 2007. The owners had to show proof that their dogs had all the necessary vaccinations before their dogs could be included in the comprehensive examination of the dogs’ suitability for the programme.
Our Education Director, Anneleise Smillie, and Dr Dog Programme Manager, Marnie Yau, checked the dogs thoroughly to see which ones would remain calm under any circumstances. Only two dogs passed – showing just how stringent our assessment process is.
Dr Nini, a lovely chihuahua, and Dr Helen, a beautiful golden retriever, both passed their tests with flying colours and were soon out visiting hospitals, homes for the elderly and orphanages to the obvious delight of the residents.
Their first visit – to the Shenzhen Social Welfare Centre – was hugely popular with the elderly residents, as well as creating a media frenzy, with nine Shenzhen media organisations in attendance.
At a later visit to a disabled children’s home, little Dr Nini worked his magic on five-year-old Wang Sze-wai who has brain paralysis, showing just how effective animal therapy can be. Sze-wai’s mother looked on with amazement and joy as her little girl who usually showed no interest in her surroundings, hugged and petted Nini. “I have never seen her this happy before,” Mrs Wang said.
Anneleise said the fact that there had not been one single incident of one of our Dr Dogs snarling or biting during the thousands of visits they have made since the programme launched in 1991, was testament to the success of the assessment process.
Our China Relations Director Christie Yang said that in 2006, Shenzhen introduced new dog regulations, making the city the most humane in mainland China in its treatment of dogs. She said the launch of Dr Dog would lead to greater understanding of the important role companion animals play in our lives and bring more respect for both dogs and cats.
Anneleise assesses blind Bright-Bright. Unfortunately, he wasn’t suitable to be a Dr Dog.
Dr Nini brings her special brand of joy to this resident of an elderly people’s home.