Adopting Pets in Beijing: What You Should Know
As spring turns into summer, numerous puppies and kittens appear as strays in our neighborhoods, in the shelters and in the animal sales markets. Stray puppies and kittens are often found wandering in our compounds and there are numerous notices from families that are relocating and needing to find new homes for their pets. The informal shelters and animal rescue volunteers are usually overwhelmed with calls from pet owners needing to give up their dogs, cats and other pets. Nearly all of the animal shelters and foster care providers become stretched to capacity, especially at this time of year. If you are thinking about bringing a pet into your life, please consider giving a home to the many stray, rescued and re-homed pets in our community.
Breeding is a very new industry in China and is largely unregulated. In the local market, pets for sale are bred for profit meaning the animals are mated to produce many litters quickly. This results in unhealthy puppies and kittens as their mothers are bred too frequently and cannot produce sufficient or nutritious enough milk for the offspring. The puppies and kittens are usually weaned too early from their mothers and often sold before they are six weeks old. The faster the animals are sold, the higher the turnover and more profit for the sellers.
When dealing with vendors selling specific breeds of animal, it is important to note that it is costly to acquire and import purebred animals so usually only a very small number are imported. What this means is that the breeding pool of these animals is small so that issues related to inbreeding may result after just a few generations. It is not uncommon for these inbred animals to be diagnosed with life-long health or behavioral issues that may not become apparent until the animal is older.
Please be very cautious of animal sellers, pet markets, pet shops, online shops and vendors calling themselves "breeders." The state of the breeding industry in China today is extremely premature and differs greatly from that of more mature markets where professional breeders are registered, monitored, subject to legal regulations and held accountable for the animals they breed and sell. In the local market, anyone with a male and female animal may mate them and claim themselves "breeders" through websites, classified advertisements or pet shops and animal markets.
Pet sellers may not understand the vaccination requirements for puppies and kittens so infectious diseases such as parvovirus, canine distemper, coronavirus and feline panleukopenia virus are common, mainly resulting from unvaccinated or improperly vaccinated animals. Buyers have little recourse in the event the animal develops health issues after purchase. It is very difficult to walk away from adorable puppies and kittens in pet shop windows or languishing in crowded cages offered by sidewalk vendors, but each purchase of an animal supports the pets-for-profit industry, encouraging the vendors to breed more animals and displaces the chances for an existing animal to find an adoption home.
While the local breeding industry will improve with time, currently, the pet sales industry is still a "buyer beware" market, so please consider the risks before purchasing.
If you are looking for a puppy, kitten, dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, rat, hamster or turtle, there are usually many available for adoption.
The "Doggy of the Week," "Moggy of the Week" and "Wabbit of the Week" pet adoption blogs on the beijingkids website regularly feature healthy animals looking for a new home.
The ICVS Adoptable Pets website features animals from reputable animal rescue organizations, foster homes and pet owners that have pets waiting for homes. Most of these pets have already been examined by vets, have completed annual vaccination courses, are neutered and spayed, and are generally in good health with good temperaments.
ICVS will provide discounts of up to 50 percent on health examinations, vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries for the stray, rescued and re-homed pets featured on the Doggy, Moggy and Wabbit of the Week blog posts and for the animals featured on their own website.
This video report on "Pet Shop Precautions" was produced by China Radio International and features experiences of pet owners that have purchased pets in Beijing.
You can follow ICVS on Weibo, Twitter and Facebook.
Mary Peng is the Co-Founder & CEO of International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS).