A spate of direct action from concerned individuals and local animal welfare groups over the summer of 2014 has been cited as a sign of China’s animal welfare consciousness awakening.
On 3 August, a group of dog lovers in Beijing spotted a truck loaded with over 400 dogs on the Jinha Highway. Concerned, the animal lovers gave chase. The truck, along with three others, was later found to be stocked with pet breeds like golden retrievers and huskies. The four trucks contained over 2,000 dogs. Many of the dogs were exhibiting obvious signs of disease while others had already died.
The drivers’ transport certificates turned out to be in violation of Ministry of Agriculture regulations and the people demanded action. Three officials from Wuqing Animals Sanitation Supervision Station were reprimanded and the dogs adopted by a variety of groups and individuals from Beijing and Tangshan.
Less than a week later, on 8 August, two trucks were intercepted by animal welfare groups headed for Tangshan city. Reports suggest that 700 dogs had been rescued, with support from the authorities.
By 11 August, animals welfare groups around the country were becoming more confident about acting on their principles. Trucks were stopped in both Yinkou and Yantai in Liaoning province as well Beijing and Dalian. Animals Asia understands that five owners found their pets on the trucks, while the Yantai Stray Animal Rescue Center confirmed that they had rescued 850 dogs.
Suki Deng, China Cat and Dog Welfare Manager at Animals Asia said:
“This summer we’re seeing more progress than ever before. It shows that animal welfare groups and volunteers are becoming more proactive on these issues. In the past they would have paid to free the dogs, but now they are taking a legal route first, and payment is a last resort. They knew what medical help the animals typically need in rescues of this nature and were much better at organising adoption – critical to reduce pressure on shelters in the face of such large numbers. Their knowledge of the inherent illegality in the trade has allowed them to hold traders and officials to account.”
Animals Asia’s China Cat and Dog Welfare DirectorIrene Feng said:
“You can see the change in the sudden appearance of dog and cat rescue centres in Chinese cities, as well as programmes to humanely control stray dog and cat populations beginning to take shape. Realising the concerns of the people, the Chinese media is giving increasing attention to the groups campaigning on these issues.”
“I believe that these groups, small and developing as they are, will soon become the core drivers and leaders for advanced animal protection work in China. While there may not be any animal protection laws in mainland China right now, I do think we can hope that they aren’t far away.”
Since 2006, Animals Asia has organised companion animal symposiums providing a professional exchange platform for the development and unity of government and Chinese non-government animal organisations. The platform assists and guides organisations in developing cat and dog welfare projects and public education.
Today, animal welfare groups are active in every province across China, with the number growing from around 30 in 2006 to more than 100 today.
Animals Asia founder and CEO Jill Robinson added:
“We keeping talking about animal welfare in China as reaching a tipping point and there has been no greater reflection of its phenomenal growth than the actions of this summer. What started with opposition to the Yulin dog meat festival in June, went on to become a summer of dog rescues across the country. Dog and cat meat restaurants survive thanks to criminality and that makes them vulnerable – most of all – to regulations and the law. Animal lovers in China are more than smart enough to use that to their advantage. For those of us who have campaigned long and hard – investing in grass roots education and assistance – this is a tremendously exciting time.”
Animals Asia welcomes this new turn of events by crediting the animal loving citizens in china for their tenacity, and for the regulations that empower them to resolve a seemingly impossible situation effectively and peacefully.