Expats must plan ahead when adopting pets in China

Expats must plan ahead when adopting pets in China

BEIJING - Adopted pets are often put through the ordeal of abandonment a second time by expat owners who relocate, said rescuers of stray animals.

Han Xia, who runs the Beijing-based animal adoption centre Woof and Meow Orphanage House, said many expatriates who adopt abandoned pets in China face a difficult situation when they have to leave the country.

"Many of them are not familiar with the complicated animal exit and entry procedures when they adopt the animals, or don't have time or money to complete the process," she said.

"The complexity, as well as the lack of awareness or commitment, has led to many cases in which animals are abandoned a second time."

Esther Lam, a Singaporean living in Shanghai, adopted a dog a year ago.

"I was not thinking too much when I adopted the dog. I didn't even know when I would be leaving or where I'd go," said the microfinance analyst.

Foreigners who get cold feet when they realise the commitment involved in relocating a pet make up 80 per cent of the repeat abandonment cases, Han said.

It is not only hard to move animals out of China, it is also difficult to relocate animals within the country. "You need to get vaccinations, transportation permits and check with airlines for their requirements," Han said.

Her organisation has strict requirements for pet adoptions to avoid putting animals - and owners - through the pain, Han said.

"We now do not open the adoption to people if they are not prepared to take their pets out of the country or the city when they leave," Han said.

Mary Peng, founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, a pet care facility in Beijing, said, "Animal lovers should think thoroughly and evaluate their ability when adopting pets."

"The pets are not just objects. Once you adopt them, they become your family members."


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