This Chinese city wants to build a society that lives in harmony – including our canine companions

07 June 2017

Shijiazhuang city has started a programme that will ensure man’s best friend is treated with respect while reducing strays and potential abuse.

The popularity of companion animals has exploded in China in recent years as millions have been drawn to the adorable prospect of a four-legged friend.

But in crowded Chinese cities the increase in pet ownership has also led to an increase in conflict.

Not all guardians are aware of their furry friend’s needs – or how to ensure their companion animal is a good neighbour.

Vaccinations, ongoing vet care, walking on a leash and cleaning up messes are just a few of the issues which – if ignored – can lead to conflict and potentially the abandonment of a former companion.

Award ceremony in the symposium to encourage government's human dog ownership management work in China. 谢罗便臣女士为深圳市福田区城管局黄主任颁奖

But across the country, cities like Shijiazhuang are determined to create a society where people and guardians happily co-exist.

This year, the city authorities launched a responsible ownership drive to spread awareness of how to be a good dog guardian.

Leaflets were distributed, free vet consultations were offered and – at the programme’s launch – dog license consultation booths were set up and Animals Asia’s promotional film “Cat and Dog Welfare Around Us” was shown.

Jill Robinson, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia, addresses the symposium

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“It’s so important that China’s new generation of animal lovers know how to give their companions the happy lives they deserve. Learning about the importance of spaying and neutering, walking on a leash, vaccinations and regular exercise are vital if we are to avoid an increase in dogs being abused or abandoned.”

As well as the awareness raising drive, the Shijiazhuang city authorities have also established an animal shelter with essential equipment supplied by Animals Asia to care for strays.

Animals Asia’s Cat and Dog Welfare Director Irene Feng said:

“This programme is the blooming of a seed planted many years ago. It was back in 2010 that the city authorities first attended Animals Asia’s China Dog Ownership Management Symposium and clearly they have taken on board what they learned, and implemented the ideas which will improve the lives of dogs and people in the city.”

Animals Asia’s China Dog Ownership Management Symposium encourages local governments to work with animal welfare groups to develop humane, science-based policies governing dog care and stray population management.

Since the first symposium in 2009, 463 government officials from 46 cities around China have attended the bi-annual conference with Shijiazhuang City’s Public Security Bureau attending every year since 2010.

In addition to Shijiazhuang city realising the benefits of responsible management, at least 18 other cities round the country have also implemented their own programmes to improve the lives of dogs.

NGOs have a group discussion during the symposium. 非政府代表正在热烈讨论

Jill said:

“It’s amazing to see how enthusiastic local government has been to implement programmes like this. We must remember it wasn’t long ago we were routinely hearing horror stories of mass culls being used to solve issues with strays – but the bad old ways are becoming increasingly rare.

“Thanks to the symposiums, local governments are working with local groups of animal advocates to implement the changes necessary to create China’s future cities – places where people and animals live in harmony.”

Irene said:

“Shijiazhuang’s programme is indicative of a change across the country, with more and more local governments implementing tangible changes which improve animal lives. The authorities have proven themselves ready to listen, collaborate and change – all of which is helping create safer cities with less former companion animals being abandoned or abused, while those that do fall through the cracks are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Mr Zeng from Nanning governemnt shares experences of dog ownership management work