Massive expansion of China’s animal rescue capacity targeted as groups unite at nation’s largest gathering

06 June 2019

Animals Asia brings together nearly 100 animal welfare groups and rescue shelters to boost their ability to deal with cats and dogs in crisis. 

With the huge increase in companion animal ownership in China, the need to protect cats and dogs from cruelty has risen too.

There are believed to be more than 100 million registered companion animals in China, the majority of which are cats and dogs. And many will sadly face neglect or abandonment.

Once abandoned, it is likely only a matter of time before a dog is snatched and slaughtered for the dog meat trade.

In response, Animals Asia has nurtured and fostered the country's animal welfare groups and rescue shelters to boost their ability to deal with cats and dogs in crisis.

Qiming Animal Protection Center, Nov 19th, 2017-small

The Hong Kong charity's 2019 China Companion Animal Symposium — it's seventh such gathering, meeting every two years —  saw representatives from nearly 100 animal protection groups in 56 Chinese cities meet international peers such as the UK's Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and the RSPCA.

Animals Asia Cat and Dog Welfare Director Irene Feng said:

"Animals Asia has been at the forefront of animal welfare in China since our founding in 1998. But we were quick to realise that no single organisation can do this alone and have worked smartly and collaboratively on the ground for two decades to nurture the country's animal welfare advocates.

"As a result we've seen the number of local groups and shelters increase massively to cover almost the entire country and it's vital that we ensure learning and experience is shared so that all animals in need can benefit."

READ MORE: People, power and positivity: How we built a grassroots movement against dog meat cruelty

In 2006, there were just 30 animal welfare organisations in China. Today there are more than 250, over 150 of which are part-funded or mentored by Animals Asia.

Topics covered at the 2019 China Companion Animal Symposium included:

Ji Ting, from Wuxi Animal Protection Volunteer Association, who attended the conference said:

"To better manage our shelter and to learn diversified methods of animal rescue, we returned to Chengdu to join Animals Asia's 2019 China Companion Animal Symposium. The advanced shelter design and management methods from the UK participants were really worth learning from. We're inspired to meet our goals and continue helping even more animals."

Animals Asia has opposed the dog meat trade and worked to improve the welfare of cats and dogs in China since the charity's founding in 1998.

The organisation's Dr Dog animal therapy programme has touched the lives of over 540,000 people, bringing comfort to the sick and elderly while also showing society the enormous potential of dogs as friends, rather than food.

Animals Asia has funded or mentored around 60% of all grass-roots animal welfare groups in China. Since 2004, 158 companion animal protection charities in 67 cities have been supported by Animals Asia. Support includes: funding for participation in Animals Asia training programmes and symposiums, financial aid to improve shelter infrastructure, the provision of vaccines, cat and dog food, relief supplies during times of crisis, and neutering operations.

Volunteer vets help vaccination for dogs in Qiming Animal Protection Center, Nov 19th, 2017-small

In addition to the Companion Animal Symposium to nurture charities, Animals Asia also organises the Dog Ownership Management Symposium to foster cooperation between government and animal welfare groups to develop advanced, humane, science-based policies on companion animal ownership and control of strays. To date, over 500 government officials from 51 cities in the country have attended.

Jill Robinson MBE, Founder & CEO Animals Asia presenting

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

"While cats and dogs in China remain in a precarious situation and face threats from the meat trade, a lack of animal welfare legislation, poor awareness of their needs and patchy management of stray populations, their situation is improving immensely. 

"There is a growing movement of people here who will do anything to improve the lives of dog and cats in their communities and that is what Animals Asia is committed to supporting.

"The people on the ground pouring their time, energy and hearts into creating the infrastructure of rescue shelters and welfare groups that China so desperately needs are the real heroes - but they are crying out for help. 

"As long as we can support them we will because that is the only way we can end the cruelty of the dog meat trade. Change has to come from within."

An in-depth report compiled in 2015 by Animals Asia revealed illegality at every stage of the dog meat supply chain including widespread theft of dogs, flouting of the vaccinations requirement, a lack of health and proof of origin certificates, illegal transports and unsanitary slaughter. 

In 2016, proposed legislation to outlaw the dog meat industry received overwhelming support, with nearly nine million people voting for the proposal online, while an online poll in 2017 by China National Radio revealed 69% of the public agree the dog and cat meat industries should be banned.