Nipping the stray problem in the bud
Royal Canin, one of the world’s largest pet food manufacturers, on August 28 unveiled a long-term project to provide care for stray pets at the Stray Pet Care Summit in Shanghai. In the first phase of this Stray Pet Project, the company will sponsor the sterilization of 1,000 dogs and cats in China.
Liu Lang, president of Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association Sterilization, said that the initiative is a good way to prevent abandonment as it reduces behavioral problems and unwanted pregnancies. He also pointed out that stray animals can have their life spans nearly doubled as sterilization protects them from certain reproductive diseases, and that they are less likely to fight with one another and get injured when they are in heat.
“China is already the third largest pet-raising market in the world, after the United States and Europe,” said Chen Qiao of Royal Canin. According to a survey by Mars Petcare, there were some 62 million cats and dogs in China in 2014. Chen added that the number of strays in the world is estimated to be about 500 million, and Chinese cities like Beijing and Tianjin are home to about 1 million of them at the peak.
Xia Zhaofei, president of the veterinary teaching hospital of China Agricultural Hospital, noted that many stray pets are a result of abandonment. Cai Xiaodong, general manager of Royal Canin China, said that sterilization is important because while most strays are likely to die of starvation or disease, their uncontrolled breeding actually creates a vicious cycle.
Another aspect of Royal Canin’s plan to enhance pet welfare is the establishment of pet care communities in Beijing and Tianjin that will teach people how to raise their pets using the proper techniques. According to Cai, the company will also be teaming up with animal hospitals and animal protection organizations to drive the campaign forward. Royal Canin will also help sterilized strays to find owners through official channels. Some may even be trained as working dogs.
Since 2011, the China Beijing Kennel Club, one of the project’s supporters, has trained 10 stray dogs, with two of them becoming assistants to hearing-impaired people. The other eight dogs have also found homes.
“The training of the dogs is long and complex. Not many dogs are suitable to become a hearing dog,” said club member Wang Yue. “We hope more people will know about the project and help with it.”