Sanctuary strays connected with animal lovers thanks to the China Bear Rescue Centre

13 January 2020

Our brilliant Veterinary Nurse at the China Bear Rescue Centre Katherine Alexander writes about some of the four legged visitors to the centre and how they’re shown love in action.

The majority of the work that the Bear & Vet Team performs at the Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre (CBRC) deals with bears, however we also invest a great deal of time, energy and emotion into the local cats and dogs, including the stray cats and dogs that are found around our centre. 

Throughout the past year, CBRC staff members have found or been alerted to a variety of cats and dogs that have been abandoned in the biosecurity zone outside of the sanctuary (a one-block radius outside the sanctuary designed to keep our bears, staff and companion animals safe from disease). This can happen at any time of day or night. Once a stray is found and reported a member of the vet team is called to assess the animal’s overall health condition. If the animal is found to be well and healthy, we do our very best to find them a new home.

Ripley's new home

Sometimes a member of the CBRC family will want to adopt a new companion. However, if this is not the case, we seek homes further afield.  We work closely with an organization called Chengdu Animal Rescue who has helped us find foster and forever homes for many of the stray animals we have encountered. Recently we have set up our own re-homing WeChat (Chinese social media) group to find new families for our animal orphans. There are now over 100 members in this group and it hasn’t even been a year since it was started! If someone is interested in adopting or fostering, they contact us and are then assessed by our team to ensure they are suitable candidates to become adopters of the cat or dog. Another way that we can re-home stray animals is through an adoption event that takes place every Sunday at a café in Chengdu. This event is for anyone wanting to re-home an animal and brings together a wide array of animal lovers and carers.

Roland's new home

Before the cats or dogs go to their forever or foster homes they are cared for at a quarantined area at our Small Animal Hospital. All members of our core team get involved in the daily care of these animals, which includes rapport building, veterinary care, walks, play and quite a bit of out-of-hour work. Although this adds to our workload, we are all happy to be involved in their care. Not only do we get to see them grow strong and healthy, we also witness their confidence growing and their personalities start to shine through.  It is an extremely rewarding experience.

It takes a lot of time and hard work to find suitable homes for our stray animals. Fortunately we receive a lot of help from our local staff, who help by translating signage and posters, assessing potential owners and also by providing temporary foster homes. The majority of the strays we get at CBRC are puppies, although we have had a few adult dogs and some kittens. All animals we care for are vaccinated and neutered prior to re-homing, and if the animal is too young for de-sexing, we offer this service at a later date, free of charge.

The animals abandoned at the centre are the lucky ones, especially when we can find them a great home, like Tara. Tara was very nervous when our security team found her struggling to climb out of a small creek. She had a wound on her head, which looked to be a bite wound and required surgery. With a lot of patience and love from the team, Tara has grown into a friendly energetic companion. She managed to win the heart of a family who recently visited our center, and has now found a home with them permanently in Hong Kong. A couple of months ago five puppies were brought to the centre by a local person who had found them abandoned on the side of the road in a cardboard box. The CBRC Core Team had been to the cinema that night to see Toy Story 4, so decided to name the puppies after characters from the film. Buzz, Woody, Rex, Jessie and Bo all found homes and are due to come back soon to be neutered.

Sai Hu is another dog that we were asked to find a home for as he had bitten someone. We worked closely with Sai Hu and knew that normally he would not bite and that he was generally a lovely dog. We were unable to find him a home in China and as he had bitten someone he could only be re-homed to someone who had experience with dogs before and knew how to cope with him. Luckily one of our Behavioural Volunteers, Grace Galopin, at the time adopted him. Sai Hu has recently arrived at his new home in the UK.

11. Sai Hu CBRC (2)

Recently 5 puppies were found in a bush in a field. It was a cold day and the puppies were only about 3-4 weeks old, so were unable to survive on their own, particularly in the cold. We took them to our veterinary hospital, where they were checked over by a vet. Once they were given a clean bill of health we started finding them new homes. Luckily all 5 found nice new homes within 2-weeks of being found.

In 2019 we have re-homed 21 stray animals, and we are working with the local community to reduce stray numbers, including owner education and offering neutering at a reduced cost. This work can be difficult and trying, but it is rewarding. We hope these efforts will not only improve animal welfare but also reduce the number of strays. 

12. Phoenix new home with her best friend Suhi