Sunday, 6 December 2009

Paws for thought...

Call me Garfield, and you are toast...

With Christmas fast approaching I was stunned to see a question posted on a social media network that was essentially asking what sort of animal it would be appropriate to give as a gift.

“They are not toys,” said Mary Peng of the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS), “Giving someone a pet is the same as giving someone a baby.”

While they might look terribly cute as puppies or kittens, Mary says people should pause for thought, “You are taking on a heavy responsibility. You are responsible for a life.”

Who could possibly not love him?

Apart from the obvious expenses for food and toys, there can be some quite eye-popping vet bills when your pet gets ill – and they do. And then there’s the commitment in time. They do demand attention; they are a sponge for attention – they can’t get enough!

Tell us about it. Brian can be very persistent when he wants to play – which is pretty much all the time! Like right now, as I am writing this!

One of the core messages of a seminar on Saturday organized by the ICVS was if you are not ready to make these commitments: Don’t get a pet!

The seminar was primarily designed for people who are either operating or offering consulting services to animal shelters in China. However, there were reporters from a couple of the local newspapers among the participants, and hopefully they will help to spread the message.

“A staggering number of animals are abandoned every year,” Mary told us, “and it is getting worse.”

Nobody knows that better than Wang Liping who runs a shelter for dogs and cats in Tongzhou, in the east of Beijing.

Wang Liping and a puppy abandoned because he developed a skin disorder. He's now well on the way to recovery!

Shirley and I spent a few hours with Mrs. Wang at the shelter on Sunday. An incredibly warm and charming woman – she and her husband work from dawn to dusk and beyond, caring for a couple of hundred animals they’ve personally rescued from the streets of Beijing.

So to bring things up to date. Right now Shirley and I are working on a short video about the ICVS seminar, and then we’ll be producing “I Dog, I Cat” – or perhaps we’ll called it “Lulu’s Legacy” – hey, you’ll have to watch the video to get the story.

In the meantime…. (there is a meantime???) we’ll soon be publishing the still photographs from our project with children's development group CAI – the video will be out sometime in January.

And in a couple of weeks we’re visiting a cat sanctuary, Charlie’s Cats – but you can visit it now at

From Shirley and myself, Brian the demanding dog, and Socks the socially challenged cat – have a great week!

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