Be very careful about petting strange pet dogs in Shanghai

By Juli Min Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/28 18:43:40

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

While waiting at a street corner in Pudong, a woman cuddling a well-sheared, bear-faced Pomeranian pup in her arms walked up next to me. I reached out to pat the cute dog on its head.

Without a hint of a growl, it suddenly snapped at my hand. I pulled my arm back and checked the injury: a small scratch.

I looked up at its owner, shocked and unsure of what to do in this kind of situation, but she only stared back at me, still petting her beloved, as if it, not I, were the one who had been bit.

The light changed and everyone started walking. I should have chased the woman down but I was more focused on my quickly swelling hand, which required cleaning.

My frustration at the remorseless woman, and at myself for being so careless, turned into panic. Without her contact information, I had no way of checking if the dog had been properly vaccinated. I decided I would need to see a doctor.

I messaged a friend who had been bitten two years ago. He told me that Shanghai has several hospitals specializing in dog bites.

After checking locations, I made my way to Punan Hospital. There, the receptionist silently pointed to a thick pile of forms in front of her. After filling them out, I was told to first pay the fee to see the doctor.

The doctor took one look at my hand, disinfected the scratch then told me that getting vaccinated was optional, as the scratch was not deep.

He also told me that every day he sees over 200 patients - exclusively dog bite victims. He then proceeded to share some tragic stories about those who did not get checked in time. Needless to say, I chose to get the shots.

I handed my slip of paper to the pharmacist, who wordlessly pushed forward a small box that contained vials of vaccine. I went upstairs to an injection room, where rows of people were resting after being pumped with IV drips.

A nurse injected me with my first of five vaccines I'll have to take over the course of a month. The next person in line took my seat and handed the nurse his vaccine. Then another, ad infinitum.

A trip to a Chinese hospital can make you feel like you are part of an assembly line. Doctors here are highly specialized and patients flow through their offices by the minute.

The hospital staff checked me in quickly without asking for my passport, and the doctor was readily available, competent and well-experienced in his field. The fee for my consultation was a mere 17 yuan ($2.49).

When visiting an emergency room in the US, you can expect mounds of paperwork and long lines. And forget about affordable treatment without insurance.

I went home that night feeling more positive about the Chinese medical system than I had previously. Yes, the service is cold and impersonal.

But in an emergency, sometimes these are qualities that matter most. In bed with a sore arm and peace-of-mind, I reflected on my strange day.

I still held a grudge against the dog owner, who showed a total lack of empathy and compassion for the victim of her pet's behavior, but the nightmare had turned positive in the end.

According to findings published in the 2016 journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the world after India.

The majority of infections come from contact with China's estimated 100 million-plus dogs.

Shanghai also happens to have one of China's highest concentrations of pet dogs, which further increases the risks of bites and, thus, contracting rabies.

Lesson learned: I shouldn't go around petting strange dogs.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.


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