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Chinese pet owners call for tighter regulations amid high veterinarian costs
Published: Dec 10, 2020 03:33 PM

Residents in East China's Shanghai Municipality play with dogs raised at a local cafe. The cafe keeps eight Afghan Hound and 12 large dogs. Photo: VCG



Unhappy with having to pay high veterinary fees to take care of their beloved pets, Chinese pet owners are calling for the government to implement stricter regulations in the pet industry to avoid unreasonable charges. The call comes at a time when the pet economy has been booming around the world amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Data about the pet industry that was posted by National Business Daily on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Wednesday shocked Chinese netizens. One key figure is that the revenue of China's pet industry will exceed 2.4 trillion yuan ($36.7 billion) by the end of 2020, while people in the US spent a record-high $99 billion on all things of their pets, ranging from food to veterinary care.

These impressive numbers sparked discussion about the high costs of keeping pets, including veterinary fees. Some netizens commented that it can actually cost more to take their pets to the vet than to see a doctor, which struck a chord among pet owners.

"My kitten's medical fees are always a burden for me," Xiao Run, a 26-year-old Beijing resident who has an American Shorthair, told the Global Times on Wednesday, admitting that the expensive veterinarian fees sometimes put a damper on the happiness of owning an adorable kitten.

Xiao said that one time her kitten caught a cold and lost its appetite. Unable to bear the sight of her kitten looking so uncomfortable she took it to the vet for an examination and to get some medicine.

"To treat the disease, I spent more than 1,500 yuan ($230). Whenever I have a cold, my medical fees have never gone over 200 yuan. My kitten does not have medical insurance, so I have to take on all the costs," she complained.

Looking at Dazhong Dianping, a widely used crowd-sourced review platform for local businesses in China, one Beijing pet hospital has a variety of departments, including orthopedics, ophthalmology and dermatology departments to treat various diseases that pets can come down with.

According to the prices offered on the platform, a tooth wash at the hospital costs about 528 yuan while a body examination goes for 479 yuan.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Li who is also in his mid-20s is the owner of a golden retriever. He said that treatments for larger pets often cost more than those for smaller pets like cats. 

"Once my dog was urinating blood,so I took him to the hospital. When I left the hospital, 4,000 yuan stayed behind," he noted.

These high fees have caused pet owners to long for greater regulations on the prices of these medical services.

Huang Qihao, manager of the Chongyisheng Pet Hospital, told the Xinhua News Agency that pet healthcare is purely commercial and does not have social or commercial medical insurance to pay for it.

"At present, there is no special regulatory department to conduct unified supervision on the pricing of pet medical treatment, and the standard is still set by the hospital operators themselves," Huang said, explaining why owners feel stressed when facing pet healthcare.

There are also some pet owners who don't care about the costs, as their only concern is getting their beloved pets the best treatment they can. 

An owner of three cats who spent more than 10,000 yuan on one cat to treat its Feline Panleukopenia said she was grateful that the money could save her little love.


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