I will not raise a dog in China

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Ka­trin Büchen­bacher

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.

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