"Should I adopt?" How to support animal welfare in Shenzhen
Mayo was adopted as a puppy by a foreigner last year and grew up in a spacious apartment in a prominent Shekou neighborhood. She’s a loving, social, energetic girl, and now in the aftermath of abandonment, needs an experienced owner.
When her owner abruptly relocated abroad without a plan for bringing her in place, Mayo was left in the hands of a Shenzhen resident. The resident, already a pet owner himself, had no choice but to confine Mayo to a small crate in a veterinary boarding facility, where she remains today 6 weeks later.
Initially the plan was for Mayo to reunite with her owner after her paperwork was sorted. After a month of preparations, though, her owner decided not to fly her to him after all.
Mayo, still living in a crate, is now depending on the Shenzhen community.
Unfortunately, cases of left-behind animals are not uncommon in Shenzhen, and in the aftermath, it is not only the pet who suffers. It is the community of animal friends and advocates who must pick up the tab, costing an already overworked scene a high price financially, emotionally, and in labor, legwork, and energy.
For this reason, it is best to consider whether you’re prepared to raise a pet before adopting while living abroad.
Interested in adopting or fostering Mayo? Please get in touch via the QR code on the poster.
Should I adopt?
Before adopting from a reputable animal rescue team in Shenzhen or elsewhere in China, they will ask a number of questions to ensure you’re prepared to take on a pet.
Similar questions to ask yourself before looking to adopt might be:
Do I have the finances? Raising a pet is possible for anybody with a reasonable income; it is simply a matter of financial planning and prioritizing the animal’s current and future costs ahead of other expenses.
It is normal to spend thousands of RMB on a dog per year on basic needs and medical care, and relocating the dog with you abroad will cost an additional (approximately) 5,000+ RMB if done without the help of an agent. (With the help of an agent, it will cost more.)
Do I have the time daily? Dogs in particular have social and emotional needs which, if not met, will impact their mental health. It is not advised to adopt a dog if it will be left at home alone and unattended the majority of daylight hours per week, which may be the case, for example, if the owner is single and works full time.
Do I have the energy? Dogs should be adopted by owners who are already habituated to regular high-energy activity. Dogs should never be adopted with the expectation that it will “help” the owner(s) get in shape.
Besides daily exercise involving at least two walks per day, dogs require training and will learn well only with an owner who is 1) engaging and energetic and 2) committed and consistent, which is also a taxing undertaking.
What else can I do to support animals living in China?
Consider adopting an adult or senior animal, whose needs may be more appropriate for your schedule, lifestyle, and future plans.
Speak up, and report your opinion publicly via media channels. Many Shenzhen media have platforms for publishing residents’ opinions, such as the Opinion section in Shenzhen Daily. Many issues across society regarding animal welfare still need more voices to report their encounters, such as illegal animal vendors and animals kept in school that are often mistreated.
Volunteer. Follow news from local rescuers on WeChat and when a situation arises, respond with action.
Foster. Many dogs are lucky enough to have been rescued, but without a home, must stay in a cage. Fostering a dog means letting it live in your home, where it can be socialized and enjoy your company until its forever home is found.
Share adoption posters on your social media platforms to help get animals into homes. Rescue animals in China can also be relocated to the U.S., so sharing on Instagram and Facebook would be helpful too.
Donate. Rescued animals have living and medical expenses that are only meet through donations or out of the rescuer’s pockets. Donating money to rescuers is a practical, effective way to improve an animal’s life.