China dog symposium Part 1


What a difference in nearly three decades........ when I first came to Asia in 1985, there was one registered animal welfare group in China - and now there are close to one hundred organisations and too many government officials and departments to mention who are working side by side in addressing the problems and solutions of sharing our lives with wild, domestic and endangered species.

As we all know, when people and dogs share their lives this, in itself, can bring both pleasure and pain - for both species. For example, dog ownership across the world is booming today, but as more people bring more dogs into their homes and benefit from this relationship, so the conflict between dog owners and non-dog owners becomes more intense. More dogs are abandoned, the increased risk of disease becomes an issue, and so it goes on.

This month, in an effort to discuss and address some of these issues, we saw 121 delegates from 36 cities across China - including 75 government officials and 31 delegates from 25 animal welfare groups - attending the 4th symposium on "Dog Ownership Management".

In an extraordinary meeting of minds, we heard the most fantastic presentations that showed how much intelligence there is today in advocating harmony between humans and companion animals, and working on programmes that will ultimately benefit those who love dogs - and those who don't - agreeing on common ground towards a more harmonious society.

Our special thanks to co-Sponsors Dalian PSB Dog Management Department, to Host Dalian Pets 100 (Dalian Chong Ai Tian Xia Group), and of course to HSI in the USA as the co-supporting organisation.

Thanks most of all to our own team of Animals Asia for working their socks off to make sure that the conference was so successful - including Suki (who was a fabulous MC) and Cherry (who joined Suki as the main coordinator), and to Irene, Carrot, Gina, Jessica, Jenny, Rachel and Yan.

Some incredibly exciting presentations came out of this conference.

We heard Mr Deng Tianyi of the Dalian Public Security discuss the dog management programmes that have made the city more harmonious over recent years. These include building a strong vaccination programme, enforcing regulations concerning dog ownership and cooperating with the media on social campaigns in order to spread advice to the community.

Dalian PSB also visit dog owners; distributing brochures and education materials, they have established pounds with a dog ID system, set up an electronic licence system, and collaborate with local animal protection groups so that abandoned dogs have somewhere to go. Through this, over 7,000 dogs have been helped already. They also organise thousands of dog owners to help the government spread a responsible dog ownership message which, in turn, spreads good will to the public regarding living harmoniously with dogs and cats. Last, but not least, they have seen the establishment of a "seeing eye" dog training centre for the blind, where 29 seeing eye dogs serve the community. One of these dogs, named “Lucky” even led the torch-bearer into the stadium at the Beijing Olympic Games.

We also heard from Andrew Rowan of the Humane Society International (HSI) in the USA, detailing the experiences of dog management in the US and how similar experiences can help the work in China. Andrew emphasised how much progress has been made in China in the past 5-10 years and how more and more people across the world are keen to work with the groups and authorities too.

Mike Oswald, Director, Multnomah County Animal Services Division in Portland, Oregon, in the US also spoke of the impressive models in their management process which strives to protect community safety, community health and animal welfare, and promotes responsible pet ownership.

Yu Hongmei of the amazing Pets 100 in Dalian gave a fabulous presentation showing that their group is a platform for rescues in the community. They carry out neutering of the street dogs and cats, offering training for vets who perform the surgeries on cats and dogs, and helping to increase awareness of the welfare of companion animals in the community.

We also heard from Mr Liu from the Weixian Government who recently launched a rabies programme with the Capital Animal Welfare Association, China Demographic Parties, and The Chinese Medicine Association.

And then there was the wonderful news that Wei County in Hebei province is also the first county to ban the eating of dog meat - and also the selling of dogs and dog meat. This is an unprecedented outcome and thanks to all the dedicated officials of Wei County who moved this forward. Animals Asia had attended a special ceremony there in June with the title "Focus on animal protection, prevent rabies the scientific way" - and the dog meat ban was officially announced on the 2nd of August.

Last but definitely not least, Wendy, our Senior Vet Nurse at our Chengdu bear rescue sanctuary gave an informative presentation focusing on the seven steps necessary to engage in dog and cat rescues in China. She dedicated her paper to the many dogs of Qimeng rescue centre, with thanks to the rescuers too who, along with everyone at the conference, are creating happier lives for dogs.

Finally, on the topic of responsible dog ownership management, Animals Asia also believes that the responsibility for all dogs, regardless of their breed, must be placed on their guardians. Simply restricting specific breeds can provide a false sense of accomplishment for a governing authority, but does not fully address the issues of poor dog ownership and aggressive behaviour in dogs.

Throughout the world, we have seen many countries adopting new initiatives and changing regulations surrounding specific breeds of dogs. Regulations are removing bans on many breeds previously perceived as “dangerous” dogs, and placing more responsibility on the owners of individual badly behaved dogs. The statistics speak for themselves and progress is being made as a result of these initiatives - and it is growing each year.

We would like to see more governments adopt laws that establish a fair, community-based process by which specific individual dogs (rather than breeds) can be identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions, and the development of appropriate penalties for irresponsible dog owners.

We hope that this is an area that we can work on together in to the future, so that we may never see the destruction of innocent lives again and so that ultimately the community looks at the dogs living amongst them as animals to be trusted, rather than animals to be feared.

Surely we owe so much to this species that helps and protects us as a society here in China and across the world – an animal that is the only creature on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.


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