Expats and Chinese can work together to help stray animals

By Eka Valyavskaya Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/13 18:33:40

Imagine a foreign girl in the bushes somewhere in Shanghai. As the rain starts to fall and the street lights turn off, she moves ever so slowly, reaching out with her hands and whispering something in Russian.

That girl was me, three years ago. I was sitting outside the foreign student dormitory chatting with my friend when I noticed something popping across the bushes. As I stood up and looked closely, I saw an absolutely beautiful kitty cat.

I was surprised and upset when my friend told me that the animal was abandoned by its previous owner. Every day I saw many messages on WeChat about missing and abandoned animals in Shanghai. I knew it was my chance to help.

I spent two hours in those bushes until the scared creature finally crawled into my hands. I tenderly picked it up and took it up to my room. Since then we have lived happily ever after. I named it the first character of my Chinese name, Kai, which is also the name of the main hero of my favorite fairy tale The Snow Queen, written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Every day I prayed that nobody from my dormitory found out about Kai, because students were prohibited to keep animals. As the cat grew, I had to give it to my friends, who lived in a bigger apartment. They were taking care of it until my mom came to Shanghai and took it back to Russia with her.

Months before my mom arrived, I gave Kai all the required injections and documents from a specialized vet. A day before departure, I had to go to the Shanghai Custom House, where the animal was issued official permission to leave China. Today, Kai is three and lives with my mom in Moscow.

Back in the first days of my internship at the Global Times Metro Shanghai, I attended an event organized by two foreign ladies, Samantha and Ann. Their local association, People for Pets, brings together hundreds of Chinese and foreign residents in the city who love animals and want to save them from becoming strays.

Luckily, the pet industry is now booming in China. Chinese cities are full of vet clinics and even pet hotels. Medical help, hairstyling and even manicure services are available. I once saw a lady pushing her poodle in a small pink stroller. It certainly was extravagant, but it is better than abandoning animals which, unfortunately, is also a thing in Shanghai.

Sadly, many Chinese buy pets just for a quick spurt of pleasure, then, after realizing how much responsibility and money they actually require, ditch them in the streets. In many WeChat groups I am part of, I often see posts by locals asking for someone to adopt their cat or dog.

Thus far, it is mostly foreigners in Shanghai who go out of their way to help abandoned animals, owing to Western culture's longer history of pet culture. Many expats here rescue, foster and even transfer orphaned Chinese animals across international borders. Recently, a Russian girl who lives in South China's Guangdong Province founded a new animal shelter called United Love, another example of the lengths foreigners in China will go through to help local pets.

But I have no doubt that Chinese people will eventually become as devoted to saving abandoned animals as Westerners are. All we need to do is to get together on social media and raise awareness about animals that need our help.

Nobody wants to let cute animals suffer and die on the streets right in front of us. Once animal rescuing becomes more popular here, less people will forget the famous universal quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

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

Illustration:Lu Ting/GT


Posted in: TWOCENTS

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