I will not raise a dog in China
On January 29, a dreadful piece of news made its rounds about a Chinese woman killing a pet dog in her village. Villagers caught her in the act. They tied her to a gate, whipped her and wrapped the dead canine around her neck to shame her. I am not sure what shocks me more, the dog being killed or the inhumane act of self-justice. The pet’s owners were mad, and people tend to resort to self-justice when there is no law protecting their rights – and there is still no Animal Protection Law in China.
On Friday, February 16, the Year of the Dog begins. I have wanted a dog ever since I was 10 years old. I tried to convince my parents, but the answer was always “no.” So I promised myself that I would raise a puppy when the time was right.
Now that I have settled in Beijing in a spacious apartment and neighborhood with a large garden, the time seemed just about right. However, I still don’t feel comfortable raising a puppy here.
Owning a dog means being responsible for a living creature; you have to nourish it, care for it and protect it from harm. However, China is not yet a dog-friendly environment.
On December 29, pet owners in two neighborhoods in Beijing reported mysterious deaths of their beloved companions. Someone placed bait with rat poison in the neighborhood for the dogs to find, eat and then die a painful death. Things like this occur on a regular basis in Beijing.
I was discussing the news with my friend over lunch. “We had the same problem in our former neighborhood!” she cried out. She told me how she tried to warn other pet owners to never let their dogs run around unleashed and to keep an eye on what they are sniffing. One owner did not listen, and his dog ended up dead.
I hope that the Year of the Dog will be an occasion for China’s draft of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to finally pass.
With the increasing numbers of pet owners in China, awareness about animal’s rights is rising, and so is the demand to protect them by law. Law gives the police and pet owners the power to act.
The day a dog in China is not “just a dog,” but a pet worthy of protection, I will perhaps finally fulfill my childhood dream of raising one myself.