Monday, May 23, 2016

Pet Ownership in Shanghai II: Death on Walks

(Because "Pet Murder" seemed like a melodramatic title, even for this pet lover.)

Yes, you read that correctly. People, presumably civilians tired of stray animals, have been using a number of methods to try to kill them, inadvertently (or not...) killing pets. In the past couple of months, stories of people killing pets have been spreading on WeChat (Chinese Facebook-ish). If you're a vengeful person, you will enjoy this story about a dog meat poacher who died by accidentally shooting himself with a poison dart.

I am skeptical of a lot of dramatic stories that go around Chinese social media.  There is a depressing number of people willing to lie to try to gain money or fame (e.g.). Honestly, I probably wouldn't have believed that people in the suburbs were putting out poisoned food if one of my closest friends' dogs wasn't a victim exactly two months ago today.

She was a sweetheart!

Ruby, rescued from a drowning by not very nice people in a barrel of oil when she was a puppy, was my friend's best friend. Her first dog, she was totally in love. She told me that when she had her second baby, just a couple of weeks before Ruby was killed, she wasn't worried about being overburdened by having a newborn, young child, and dog, because Ruby "kept her sane and happy".

Unfortunately, instead of happiness, my friend dealt with recovering from a C-section, caring for a newborn, explaining death to her 5 year old who just witnessed his "sister" die, and grieving her beloved pet all in the same morning. When she called me, sobbing uncontrollably, I thought there had been an accident. Not a deliberate action by someone to kill animals.

The food that killed Ruby

Ruby, who was not a food-crazy dog like our Pup, had taken one bite quickly of something on the ground outside of a primary school while on her morning walk. Within half an hour, she was dead. My friend's family retrieved the food: a piece of meat tied with string to a stick of poison.

Soon after, in April, 20 cats were found dead in a popular compound in the Lujiazui area (where all the giant towers are in Shanghai), poisoned overnight. Several people I know live there, some with children and pets.

Other incidents have been reported with people making "meat balls" and putting needles inside, leaving them around for animals to eat. Delightful. It is especially hard to avoid as there are people on the other end of the spectrum who leave real, safe food out for strays.

Once you get into the "pet lover loop" in Shanghai, it's hard not to be inundated with sob stories of abandoned, stolen, and dead animals. Unfortunately, due to the amount of rumours and b.s., a lot of reports are accompanied by photos as proof. I'm grateful to no longer witness Central American-style media with dead human bodies everywhere, but it's still depressing and disturbing.

While we have people getting used to urban life and a large number of strays, this will continue to happen. I think as spaying and neutering become more common and people become comfortable with adopting "ugly" (i.e. not 100% purebred perfect poodles) pets, this will be less of a problem. There is a big issue with people abandoning pets that get too big or less cute. This was probably the case for our Pup, abandoned after being hit by a car.

In the meantime, Shanghai friends, be diligent about keeping your pets leashed, young children close, and eyes peeled.

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