There are two pieces of highly contradictory information on the internet. As at 2019, there are still no animal welfare laws designed to prevent animal abuse in China. It is hard to believe. And yet China Daily reports today that the Chinese spend over $28 billion on cats and dogs. And expenditure on pets is growing rapidly.
Euromonitor International predicts that the market for pet products in China will grow at ‘an average annual rate of 18.2% over the next five years’. It will account for one-eight of the entire global market by 2014. Extraordinary growth.
It is being fuelled by people born after 1990. These are better educated pet owners on higher incomes. I hope these people who spend big on their pets and have a relationship with them which is typical of any other will force change in China in respect of animal welfare legislation.
Ms Hou is 28-years-of-age. She lives in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province in the southwest. Last year, she spent 6,000 yuan on her two cats. She buys the best quality pet food available, sourcing it from the US, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand. She occasionally makes homemade cat food to online recipes. She’s clearly a very concerned cat guardian.
It is people like her that I would hope will put pressure on the government to introduce animal welfare legislation which for some inexplicable reason is on the back burner. Wikipedia tells me that in 2009 the National People’s Congress introduced a proposal for nationwide animal welfare legislation but it stalled in 2013. Clearly there is no interest in it. Or perhaps legislators are worried that it would negatively impact many businesses who are cruel to animals.
Business is king in China and the use and abuse of animals creates wealth. But you can’t have a burgeoning cat and dog pet products market due to rapid pet ownership without fully functioning (well drafted and enforced) animal welfare laws.
It is interesting that Ms Hou buys foreign imported cat food. I would guess that she can’t trust the Chinese stuff. That would not surprise me because there are some horror stories of imported Chinese pet foods into the US causing deaths. They sometimes put crappy stuff into it to save money which harms animals.
This is but one obvious example of where laws to enforce proper standards in pet foods are desperately needed in China. The country needs the US equivalent of the FDA (although that organisation has failings!). There is bound to be cat and dog abuse in China. It is unreported, certainly outside China. These animals urgently need protection.
The experts say that education is the best protection for animals. Education opens the door to understanding of the needs of companion animals; emotional needs, environmental needs and on nutrition. These needs must be enshrined in law to create a framework of good companion animal caretaking and much more.
There is a growing movement in China pushing for better animal welfare. We have seen trucks stacked high with cats and dogs destined for brutal slaughter in the cat and dog meat markets stopped and emptied by animal advocates. These are fantastic people. It is a sign that there are people in China who are enlightened about the rights of animals.
As modern Chinese look to keep pets rather than have children and as the old guard with outdated ideas concerning animals die out, we will hopefully see much needed change in China. That gaping black hole which is zero nationwide animal welfare laws will be filled.
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