Of­fi­cials sniff­ing for dog’s new fam­ily

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAO CHEN in Shang­hai caochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Siyan has spent the past 11 years find­ing con­tra­band among the moun­tains of mail pass­ing through Shang­hai’s ports. Now, as he en­ters re­tire­ment, his em­ploy­ers hope to find him a new home.

For the first time, the Shang­hai En­try-Exit In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine Bureau has sent out a pub­lic ap­peal to find a fam­ily will­ing to adopt the re­tired snif­fer dog.

Siyan, a 13-year-old Amer­i­can cocker spaniel, has been sta­tioned at each of the city’s ports dur­ing his ca­reer, check­ing the many parcels and pack­ages that ar­rive by sea, land and air.

Dur­ing the past six years, he has found nearly 3,000 an­i­mals, plants and other prod­ucts in the mail that are pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing the city, ac­cord­ing to the bureau. These have in­cluded live tur­tles from Japan, en­dan­gered suc­cu­lent plants from the United States and ivory prod­ucts.

Last year, de­spite his ad­vanc­ing age, Siyan de­tected 871 for­bid­den items, ac­count­ing for one-fifth of all con­tra­band de­tected at Shang­hai ports.

Siyan was rec­og­nized as a “five-star quar­an­tine dog” in 2016, mak­ing him one of only two dogs to the re­ceive the des­ig­na­tion from among the 20 an­i­mals used by au­thor­i­ties to sniff out con­tra­band at Shang­hai’s ports.

He was of­fi­cially re­tired on Thurs­day at a cer­e­mony at the Shang­hai Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Mu­seum, which is when the bureau launched its search for a new home.

“We hope to find a good fam­ily will­ing to adopt this smart and kind dog, to care for him in old age,” said Bai Zhanghong, di­rec­tor of an­i­mal and plant quar­an­tine su­per­vi­sion for the Shang­hai En­try-Exit In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine Bureau.

Adopt­ing work­ing dogs af­ter their re­tire­ment is com­mon prac­tice in many West­ern coun­tries, but it has yet to be­come the norm in China due to its rel­a­tively short his­tory of us­ing an­i­mals

in the work­place.

The coun­try’s en­try-exit in­spec­tion and quar­an­tine au­thor­i­ties only started us­ing snif­fer dogs in 2001, with the first four go­ing on duty at Bei­jing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

In some West­ern coun­tries, work­ing dogs usu­ally spend their first few months with an adop­tive fam­ily be­fore re­ceiv­ing train­ing and start­ing work. They re­join their fam­i­lies af­ter re­tire­ment.

Yet in China, dog train­ing com­pa­nies are re­spon­si­ble for rais­ing and train­ing work­ing dogs be­fore they are rented to var­i­ous units. On re­tire­ment, if they are not adopted they re­turn to the train­ing com­pany to live out their days.

Re­spon­si­ble pet own­ers and fam­i­lies are now be­ing urged to open their homes to these hard­work­ing an­i­mals.

As many peo­ple pre­fer to adopt pup­pies, the bureau said Siyan’s “pen­sion”, which will cover most day-to-day ex­penses, should al­lay the fears of po­ten­tial adopters put off by the thought of car­ing for an older dog.

How­ever, the au­thor­ity warned that Siyan, as a work­ing dog, is en­er­getic and needs at least two hours of ex­er­cise a day. Can­di­dates also must be over 21, have the con­sent of their fam­ily and a sta­ble job.

Those in­ter­ested in tak­ing in Siyan have been urged to con­tact the bureau or mu­seum by April 30, with an an­nounce­ment ex­pected on May 6.

“These dogs play a ma­jor role in im­prov­ing the in­spec­tion ac­cu­racy of the de­tec­tion rate of for­bid­den ar­ti­cles,” said Gong Lindi, who trained Siyan. “I will def­i­nitely miss Siyan and hope a good fam­ily will of­fer him a nice home with healthy food.”

FANG ZHE / XIN­HUA

Peo­ple gather around Siyan, a 13-year-old Amer­i­can cocker spaniel, at his re­tire­ment cer­e­mony on Tues­day in Shang­hai.

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