Teachers, doctors, friends — not food

12 October 2016

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How heroes are taking dogs into China's classrooms and orphanages to prove that dogs truly are man's best friends.

While eating dog meat remains common with the older generation in China, the country’s youth are challenging old traditions.

Thanks to rising levels of pet ownership and sustained efforts by animal welfare organisations like Animals Asia, the next generation of Chinese see cats and dogs as friends, not food.

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And through Animals Asia programmes like Dr Dog and Professor Paws there’s also a grassroots reminder that dogs can help each of us — and society as a whole — in many different ways.

Last year 8,132 students in China and Hong Kong made friends with the cuddly canines of the Professor Paws programme in schools, while over 100,000 people were reached by the programme’s public education message. In the same year, more than 14,000 adults and children enjoyed the companionship of Dr Dog therapy animals.

“Dogs are our best friends!”

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This autumn, Animals Asia’s Dr Dog team visited Chengdu’s Rainbow Village, to meet orphans from the nearby city of Qionglai.

For many of these children it was the first time they had ever met a dog which wasn’t a guard dog. It didn’t take them long to realise that these canines were eager to make friends, and loved affection.

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The Dr Dog therapy animals helped the children, some of whom have never known a real family, enjoy a period of much needed affection, and the friendly exchanges went both ways.

Dr Dog animal therapist Qixiaofu has just two legs after suffering horrendous cruelty when he was young. Moved by the gentle animal’s sad past, the children made a four-legged clay model of Qixiaofu to wish him good health and a joyful future.

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The children left with a new understanding that dogs have feelings, both physical and emotional — just as they do themselves.

Love Animals Respect Life

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In September, four-legged Professor Paws volunteers visited a middle school in Guangzhou to celebrate the facility praised for its work in teaching empathy with animals.

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Animals Asia introduced students at the school to animal welfare concepts through an animated movie, while they also got to meet Professor Paws therapy dogs.

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Principal Li of Guangzhou No. 82 Middle School said:

“It is a great honour to be made the first model school in China to promote cat and dog welfare. Our school always encourages students to care for all life and develop their love and empathy for the vulnerable, including animals.”

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Animals Asia’s Professor Paws programme was launched in Hong Kong in 2004. By 2016, more than 90,000 students in 900 schools in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu had graduated as “care cadets” having been taught by Animals Asia’s canine professors.

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