Expats in China running charity events for local dog shelters

Expats in China running charity events for local dog shelters

Expats in China running charity events for local dog shelters

If you thought dogs in China are still regarded as lunch rather than life-long loves, you’d be very wrong.

Many would-be expats fascinated by Chinese history and culture are discouraged from considering the vast country as an expat opportunity due to the sad fact that dogs are still on the menu in certain provinces. It’s a totally viable objection for expats who’ve known, owned and adored many dogs over decades of their lives, but it fails to take into account the history of dogs in China over centuries and their present day social acceptance.

Nowadays, the plight of street dogs in China is similar to that of their counterparts all over Asia and the West, but eating dogs is now banned in several Chinese cities and is generally condemned in most others. The practical reason is staring the entire world in its face at present, even although the coronavirus originated in bats rather than anything remotely resembling man’s best friend. As a result of this change in culture, many dog rescue shelters are now opening across the vast country, giving the chance of survival, health and a loving home for China’s street dogs.

Two such shelters in Jiangsu province depend, as do their equivalents in the West, on charitable donations and fundraisers used to boost the profiles of street dogs as pets and ensuring their adoption into loving new homes. The two shelters, Wuxi’s Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) and the Suzhou Animal Protection Association, are benefiting from a 60-day charity weight loss fundraiser, started on April 20. It’s the second time the fundraiser has been held, with last year’s event including a sponsored dog walk and raising the yuan equivalent of $6,355 – a good result. This year, those participating in the event will pay 100 yuan and commit to sending in their current weight on a weekly basis, and can also take part in exercise-related challenges, with hosts of prizes to be won.

Helping to run the SCARS shelter as well as the event is Heather Bijiloos, a Canadian whose home for the past eight years has been Wuxi. After she’d rescued two stray street dogs and cared for several more, the word got round and she was asked to help run the SCARS shelter. The first time she’d visited the shelter, she’d come away with one adopted dog, and immediately became fully involved as a local expat volunteer.

Both of the shelters are in a permanent state of raising enough money to care for a total of 1,000 dogs and, whilst its volunteers are brilliant and work hard, full-time staff are essential for caring and feeding all the dogs. As with many other charitable concerns in and outside China, the pandemic has made fund-raising events difficult or even impossible, mostly due to social distancing and lockdowns.

One expat corporate sponsor is himself a dog-rescuer, having rehomed five dogs and 10 cats in his own apartment. He’s now taking part in the weight loss challenge, and a Japanese expat involved in running the SCARS shelter is convinced the idea is perfect for a time when normal social events simply aren’t happening. Publicity for the event also raises awareness amongst local people as regards properly caring for their dogs.

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