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).
Our China Director, Christie, recently returned from Beijing after a meeting with the Beijing Agriculture Department and a visit to one of the cat shelters. IFAW, PETA, Lu Di from China Small Animal Protection Association and Qin Xiaona from Capital Animal Welfare Association also attended the meeting. The following information was provided by the department:
The Beijing government decided to build shelters to accommodate confiscated stray cats and abandoned pet cats in 2006 for two reasons. First, media coverage of the problem of strays caught the attention of some city government leaders who gave an order to regulate the stray cat population. The second reason is the Olympic Games, as city officials worry that stray animals, especially dogs, will create trouble for visitors and pose a rabies threat.
The Beijing Agriculture Department especially clarified the recent coverage of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail. They said the government has not started a "clean-up" campaign against stray cats. The shelter only takes in stays captured by ordinary people or organizations, pet cats given up by owners, and confiscated or rescued cats. They only confiscate cats after receiving complaints from residents. According to an official, the focus of the clean-up campaign is dogs and not cats.
The cat shelter we visited has been in use since July last year. At the same time, temporary shelters were also established in 18 districts and counties in Beijing. To date, the government shelter has taken in a total of 647 cats. Among them, 45 were adopted, 105 died of diseases and 476 were euthanized. There are currently 53 cats in the shelter (these figures donít add up but are the numbers provided by the official).
The shelter has no vet on site but only two "feeders", local farmers hired by the Beijing Agriculture Department. A vet will come when they take in new cats (twice a week) from the temporary shelters in Beijing. The newly-arriving cats will be put in quarantine for 5 days with quarantine for sick cats being longer. According to the regulations, the cats will be euthanized after 15 days if they can't be adopted.
Going inside, it was obvious that the shelter has just been given a face-lift. The walls have been painted and everything looked brand-new. Some larger cages have been installed and the original small cages have been transformed by combining two into one.
There are two quarantine rooms, one is for new arrivals and the other for the sick cats. Two play rooms seem unfinished with only two cats inside and all the other cats kept in the other two rooms. We were not in a position to evaluate the health situation of the cats. There is a room for medical treatment, which is almost empty with only a dusty steel table. A room for euthanisia has only one small table. Although the shelter said it welcomed people to adopt the cats, according to local welfare groups, the procedure is quite complicated.
Christie proposed a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programme as an effective way to control the number of stray cats and introduced Hong Kong's practice on stray animal management. She also conveyed the message that Animals Asia is happy to work with the Beijing government to improve the situation. The officials with the Beijing Agriculture Department seemed quite open to new ideas and expressed a desire to improve their practices and the conditions at the shelter.
While the situation for stray, lost or abandoned cats in Beijing is indeed dismal, we are hopeful that we can work together with the Beijing city government to improve that. We will keep you posted.
July 2008 Reports are circulating that, once again, cats are being captured and killed in some residential areas in preparation for cleansing the streets during the Olympic Games. We have spoken at length with representatives from local groups and with government officials who deny this is the case. We do understand that if residents complain about cats in their area the Government will take action resulting from these individual requests but again there does not seem to be a connection at this time with any Olympic Games "cleansing"
We will continue to make calls with those on the ground each time these stories arise and post updates on our site with any appropriate information.