The Tangled Web of Chinese Domestic Animal Markets: Stolen and Stray Pets, Designer Dogs and Chi Energy


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This presentation is based on photos and interviews I took in China and shows the cat and dog meat trade, interviews with elderly Chinese and interviews with the emerging Chinese activists who are helping the animals there.

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The Tangled Web of Chinese Domestic Animal Markets: Stolen and Stray Pets, Designer Dogs and Chi Energy

  1. 1. The Tangled Webof Chinese Domestic Animal Markets:Stolen and Stray Pets, Designer Dogs and Chi Energy<br />Sharon Warner Methvin, PhD<br />,<br />
  2. 2. A Question to Consider<br />Is the eating of cat/dog meat a cultural food preference issue and therefore a similar issue to the eating and treatment of livestock in the US?<br />In part…yes. In part…no.<br />Nothing, when it comes to culture, is simple or even clear cut. <br />Clearly, there are parallels:<br />
  3. 3. Parallels to Livestock<br />
  4. 4. Parallels <br />Food preferences for certain tastes and breeds<br />Conditions of treatment and transport<br />Cruelty in killing methods<br />Cultural attitudes about protein, immune system strength and general health <br />
  5. 5. Bigger =Better Taste <br />
  6. 6. Cage Confinement <br />
  7. 7. Cruel Slaughter<br />
  8. 8. Protein and Strength<br />
  9. 9. But…<br />The there’s more to the cat/dog meat issue <br />
  10. 10. Part One: The Web Untangled<br />Strand One:<br />Stray and Stolen Pets from the Streets<br />Strand Two:<br />Surplus Animals from Consumer Driven Pet Markets <br />Strand Three:<br />Food as Medicine to Strengthen the Body <br />
  11. 11. Strand OneStrand One:Stray and Stolen Pets from the Streets<br />
  12. 12. Street Animals<br />
  13. 13. Stolen from the Streets<br />
  14. 14. Strays and Pets<br />
  15. 15. Loved…Looked After…Lost<br />
  16. 16. Animal Guardians Cook and Distribute Food in Parks (Beijing)<br />
  17. 17. The Web of Animal Nappers<br />Adult cats rounded up… <br />Traps are set during the night<br />Friendly cats are collected with ropes<br />Pet shop surplus are gathered<br />Held in crates in warehouses until transported to southern China<br />
  18. 18. Strand TwoStrand Two:Surplus Animals from Consumer Driven Pet Markets <br />
  19. 19. Urban Pet Keeping The New Status Symbol<br />
  20. 20. Surplus Pets and Consumer Demand<br />
  21. 21. Pet Alley<br />
  22. 22. Puppies…Large Dogs…Purebreds<br />
  23. 23. Designer Dogs<br />
  24. 24. Pet Alley InterviewConsumer & Export DemandFuel the Meat and Fur (trinket/trim) Market<br />
  25. 25. Surplus Sent to Market<br />Rounded up by the animal dealers<br />Sell the common ones for 5rmb <br />(about .75 cents)<br />Purebreds and large dogs for 25-50rmb<br />(about 4-7USD)<br />
  26. 26. But not these: Rescued (by us)<br />
  27. 27. Strand ThreeStrand Three:Food as Medicine to Strengthen the Body <br />
  28. 28. Cultural Perceptions of Chi<br />Visitors to Guangdong province, China, have often been appalled since circa 1350 by local "Dragon and Tiger" cuisine,  combining the flesh of cats with snakes.  As many as 10,000 cats per day are eaten in the city of Guangzhou each winter,  according to recent estimates--but the Shenzhen Cat Net web site founder, identified by China Daily only as "Isobel,"  may have sparked a movement against the custom by carrying a white rose to the restaurant in memory of the slaughtered cats. China Daily News, 2007.<br />
  29. 29. Consumption Estimates<br />“Animal People” estimates that 13-16 million dogs and 4 million cats are butchered each year for human consumption in Asia. <br />Some estimates for cats are 10million.<br />Dogs are eaten in winter in China to keep the blood warm and immune system strong.<br />In rural areas, the dog guards, is eaten in winter and replaced with a puppy in spring.<br />
  30. 30. Market Dog Meat Stall in Nanjing<br />
  31. 31. Market Butcher in Nanjing<br />
  32. 32.
  33. 33. Meat Market Butcher Interview<br />He sells one or two a day.<br />For food, people like big dogs for more fat.<br />More so in winter to warm the blood or chi.<br />Dogs come from the countryside.<br />Sold by weight.<br />Activists returned to buy a Labrador for 50yuan, but it was too late. (7USD)<br />
  34. 34. But not this one: Rescued (by us)<br />
  35. 35. Legal Issues and the Meat Trade<br />Paperwork is required for transport, but is usually phony.<br />No current laws cover care, treatment or butchering.<br />Meat temperature and hygiene do not seem to be regulated in markets.<br />No current laws cover domestic animals.<br />No current laws cover animal cruelty.<br />There are height restrictions and number limits for guardians to follow. Inspectors confiscate violations. <br />No labeling regulations for fur on products from China. Federal legislation introduced, but has not passed. <br />
  36. 36. The Web of Players<br />Pet alley shop owners/breeders<br />Cat/dog nappers who work the streets<br />Middle men who warehouse and arrange the transport to Southern China by truck or train<br />End of line markets, especially in Guangdong <br />Consumers <br />Public<br />
  37. 37. The Web of Victims <br />Street animals often fed in community places<br />Pets who live outside<br />Surplus purebreds and designer dogs<br />Unwanted litters given to pet alley shops<br />Breed-specific farmed animals like St. Bernard's<br />Caregivers and guardians<br />
  38. 38. The Bigger Web Unraveled <br />Locals state that only a few dogs and no cats are eaten in urban areas, except by rural migrant workers. They say it only happens in Canton area.<br />In Nanjing (near Shanghai), the market butcher said he had maybe one or two orders a day. None for cats and he had no cats confined. <br />In Beijing, some dogs could be seen in the market for several days. They are located just across the area from pet dogs for sale. <br />Most of the surplus and street animals are shipped to Guangdong in southern China by train or truck. They fuel the meat/fur industry.<br />
  39. 39. About 40-50 to a crate, 200-800 in a shipment. Some for meat, some only for fur to create trinkets and trim.<br />
  40. 40.
  41. 41. The suffering in transport is unimaginable<br />
  42. 42. Transported from Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces<br />So, it is far more than just being skinned alive, it is also what they endure from the point of capture and transit as well. <br />This is on top of already being victims of the pet trade industry, where they may have sat in cages, unprotected from the weather for weeks, but were never bought. The surplus ones are then sold to the fur/meat traders to be shipped to Guangdong.<br />The route by train from Shanghai or Nanjing is about 1,150K or 750 miles. <br />
  43. 43. Transportation Network to Cantonese Area<br />
  44. 44. The Web Network Economics<br />Pet alley common-bred cats~~5yuan<br />To middle men from trappers and collectors~~10yuan<br />After transport to Guangdong for skinning~~50yuan. In bulk, can be bought at 45yuan each <br />Special breeds of dogs~~200yuan<br />Cat meat on the plate~~35yuan per kilo<br />Average common worker’s salary in urban areas where many are rural migrants~~1,800yuan<br />
  45. 45. Part Two: Cultural Attitudes<br />In rural areas, domestic animals as companions is nothing new.<br />Dogs guard against robbers and against predators on livestock are often kept on the side of or under houses. <br />Cats keep the rodents out of stored grain and vegetables <br />Dogs in the countryside may guard, then be eaten in winter, to be replaced by a new puppy in spring. Cat meat taste is sour, so eaten less.<br />
  46. 46. Rural Perceptions <br />
  47. 47. Dogs protect livestock and property<br />
  48. 48. Rodent control and protection of grain<br />
  49. 49. Domestic animals as utilitarian companions<br />
  50. 50. Urban Perceptions<br />Pet keeping in urban environments is new in China.<br />It falls into a couple of attitudinal areas.<br />Many older traditional Chinese (retirement is between 55-60) have mixed, Benji type dogs and take them to parks and on walks.<br />For the emerging middle class and wannabes, purebreds and large breeds, are novelties and symbols that are fueling the surplus pet industry.<br />
  51. 51. Pet Ownership as the New Status Symbol. Cost 800RMB from Breeder. (Died of Parvo)<br />
  52. 52. Research Findings in Beijing<br />Elderly interviewed in the parks. <br />Mostly retired and well educated. Average retirement income is 1,000-2,000yuan. <br />Ages between 50-70. Gender about split.<br />Around 75% have middle school educations and some have college degrees. In one sample, 25% had college degrees. <br />A sample of 100 cases from three parks, including Chaoyong and Lidu Parks located in nicer areas and one smaller community park.<br />Retired may spend 3-4 hours a day in parks.<br />
  53. 53. Ethnographic Interviews in Beijing Parks: Some Research Findings <br />There is a strong concern that street animals and pets are “polluting” the gardens. <br />There is a fear of bites and diseases from animals. <br />There is a fear of government actions to confiscate pets.<br />There is also the conclusion that pets add health and happiness. <br />
  54. 54. Chinese Academy of Social Science Students Conduct Interviews in Parks <br />
  55. 55. Chaoyang Park in Beijing<br />
  56. 56. Cultural Perceptions <br />When we interviewed the older Chinese in urban parks in Beijing, here is what we found.<br />Often there is a perceptual distinction between three classes of dogs:<br />Pets, Street Dogs and Dogs for Food.<br />Pet dogs are loved, street dogs are dirty and carry disease or can bite, food dogs are mostly consumed in restricted Cantonese areas or in the countryside. <br />
  57. 57. Cultural Perceptions <br />By analogy, in the US, there is a similar perceptual classification of snakes and rabbits.<br />Some are for food, others for pets, and others for experiments (rabbits) or pests (snakes).<br />
  58. 58. Perceptions of Disease <br />Part of the fear of street animals is due to lack of knowledge regarding rabies control. <br />Chinese made vaccines are administered in government vet clinics, less safe, and their use is not widespread. (Think of having to bike or bus to the clinic.) <br />The vaccine’s ability to control disease in not well understood. In Nanjing, for example, I was asked by one shelter to help secure US vaccines for all dogs, even though many had been there over six months, instead of quarantine of new arrivals.<br />In Beijing, a student of mine was lightly scratched by a cat she was feeding on campus and was required to undergo a ten day rabies inoculation series.<br />The dog earlier in the scooter photo, died from Parvo only two weeks after being purchased from a breeder for 800rmb. (Perception was that pet alley and shelter dogs were dirty.)<br />
  59. 59. Perceptions of Pet Keeping<br />Elders who take care of grandkids often do not keep pets out of concern for kids’ health and safety.<br />Many feel they are too busy and have no time to keep pets. A common theme is that pet keeping is time consuming.<br />A common theme is that pets pollute and are dirty.<br />Many love pets and even feed homeless ones.<br />Some keep pets because they have time after retirement, are lonely, or do not live near their children. Pets make them happy and give them exercise.<br />
  60. 60. Perceptions of Dog/Cat Meat<br />Many have strong sympathy toward animals treated cruelly, but do not consider cooking animals alive a cruel action. (A common method of preparing cats.)<br />Some feel the common methods of skinning snakes, domestics, etc. alive while pinned is cruel; others not sure. <br />
  61. 61. Perceptions of Animal Pain<br />Most respondents think animals can feel pain.<br />Nearly 87% think animals can feel pain; while 12% are not sure. <br />Most do not think it is good to wear or buy fur of rare animals. <br />
  62. 62. Perceptions of CrueltySome Typical Statements<br />We could do nothing about it as we have no laws to protect them.<br />It is cruel but no one has the ability to take them in or help.<br />Most have witnessed cruelty rarely or not at all.<br />Maltreatment is wrong, but we can do nothing.<br />When asked to describe what they felt about abuse, some expressions were: object to, sorrow, sympathizes, angry.<br />People were divided on whether they would interfere if they saw maltreatment. <br />Very cruel, but no one can stop it was a common theme<br />Some would look the other way; others wish for an organization to call.<br />Some feel they have no authority to interfere.<br />
  63. 63. Perceptions about Government<br />Most doubt that the government’s ability for adopting out homeless animals. Several mentioned that NGO’s could help with this task.<br />Some have experienced the government confiscating their large or “second” dogs during the annual roundups. <br />Majority feel laws are needed to protect animals.<br />
  64. 64. Part Three: A New Era for Animals in China<br />
  65. 65. Emerging Activism for Animals<br />
  66. 66. Packed, Stacked and Transported <br />
  67. 67. Social Movement Strategies(Gamson’s concepts applied)<br />Successful strategies can be attitudinal or behavioral <br />Best way to change attitude is through education<br />Best way to change behavior is through laws<br />For deeply held values, faster results are through behavioral change and eventually attitudes catch up <br />Deeply held values take two or three generations to change<br />
  68. 68. Tactics and Techniques <br />Tactics fall into two categories:<br />Institutional tactics use institutional channels such as media, policies, and organizational and institutional authority. <br />Direct action tactics use extra institutional means such as boycotts of restaurants serving cat meat, protests and demonstrations. <br />
  69. 69. Emerging Activism: Direct Action Techniques<br />Examples of direct action techniques emerging in China and being used by Chinese activists include:<br />Vigils and memorials in front of restaurants that serve cat meat or perpetrators of cruelty. <br />Breaking into and freeing crates of animals enroot to Guangzhou. Some in Shanghai have laid down under the trucks to prevent them from leaving.<br />Leafleting at events.<br />
  70. 70. Raids on Factories and Shops<br /> TIANJIN,  BEIJING-- As many as 100 volunteers rallied by the I Love Cats Home  in Tianjin stormed a cat meat market on February 10,  2007 to rescue 444 cats,  of whom 415 were taken in by the China Small Animal Protection Association,  of Beijing.       "It was a true battle,"  China Small Animal Protection Association volunteer Dan Zhang told ANIMAL PEOPLE.  "The Tianjing volunteers bravely fought for the lives of the cats with the butchers and police for more than 10 hours.  Some volunteers were injured and sent to the hospital,"  one of whom was still hospitalized two days later,  rescue organization Wang Yue of the I Love Cats Home told Ng Tze Wei of the South China Morning Post.       "The police threatened to shut their mouths,"  Zhang said. "Volunteers from the I Love Cats Home called us at midnight to ask for our help,  after they were not allowed to take the cats away. Professor Lu Di and I kept in contact with them all night.  Finally the police agreed that the volunteers could take the cats away if they signed an agreement with the cat butcher. "       Organizing transportation and volunteers to take the cats to Beijing,  "We arrived in the afternoon and got back at midnight," Zhang recounted.  "Lu Di and I stayed at the shelter until 6 a.m. to take care of the much tortured and extremely terrified cats.       The Beijing News "said the volunteers might be sued by the cat vendors for compensation and be prosecuted for attacking police officers,"  wrote Ng Tze Wei.  "But Wang Yue said that they did not attack the police.       "Ms. Wang said her group first learned late last month that a shop in the wholesale market was keeping more than 400 cats in small cages,  but the police and government departments said there was nothing they could do about it," Ng Tze Wei continued.       "Xiao Xue,  another group member," told Ng Tze Wei that "the carcasses of dead cats were seen dumped next to the shop last month. The cats rescued on Saturday appeared to be another batch," Ng Tze Wei wrote.  "A Tianjin reporter told the group that angry local residents broke down the shop's door" on February 9,  the day before the I Love Cats Home raid,  "to retrieve lost pets they suspected had been stolen by the vendors,"  Ng Tze Wei reported.       Admitted Wang Yue,  "By rescuing the cats we broke the law. However,  we cannot pursue these cat thieves under the law because we cannot catch them in the act."       Wang Yue hoped that the China Small Animal Protection Association,  seeking homes for the cats in Beijing,  could help with whatever legal problems might follow.  She appealed for adopters to step forward.       "The media coverage attracted much attention,"  Zhang said. "We received many calls from people who wanted to help,  either to adopt or to donate money."       However,  Zhang added,  the total contributions actually received,  as of February 19,  amounted to "less than $1,000 altogether."  [ANIMAL PEOPLE had already sent $500 to the aid of the cats c/o Animal Rescue Beijing,  which is now helping the China Small Animal Protection Association to look after the cats,  and will be happy to relay readers' donations.  Checks should be made out to ANIMAL PEOPLE,  labeled "for the Chinese cats."]       "My artist friend Ai Weiwei went to the shelter with us yesterday afternoon,"  Zhang continued,  "and he was shocked to see how bad the conditions were,"  with the new arrivals joining the 200 cats and 700 dogs who were already housed there.  He immediately decided to rent a place in order to adopt as many cats as possible, as soon as possible.  His wife,  a painter,  took four home immediately.  One was pregnant and gave birth to several lovely kit tens."       Ai Weiwei eventually took 21 cats.  Zhang and two friends adopted 10.  "Most of them are injured,"  Zhang reported.  "Volunteer Ms. Wang Yin took more than 300 cats to be sterilized,"  Zhang added.       The Hong Kong SPCA was sending a team of veterinarians to assist,  Ng Tze Wei said.       The Tianjin cat rescue came nearly eight months after 40 cat-lovers backed by "a large crowd including children,"  according to China Daily,  stormed the newly opened Fang Company Cat Meatball Restaurant in Shenzhen on June 17,  2006.  Finding the remains of one butchered cat,  they extracted a promise from the owner to serve cats no more.       The Shenzhen raid started when the founder of the Shenzhen Cat Net web site,  identified only as "Isobel" by China Daily, carried a white rose to the restaurant in memory of the slaughtered cats.  Supporters followed,  holding banners and distributing handbills denouncing both eating cats and eating dogs.       Among them was GaoHaiyun,  Miss Shenzhen for 2005,  who according to China Daily told restaurant customers to "stop eating cats and dogs and become civilized."       "It's hopeless to realize how many cat meat and fur markets remain in Tianjin alone,"  Zhang said,  "not to mention Guangdong, the most bloody province in China,  where people believe cat and dog meat are good for their health."       But Zhang anticipated using the Tianjin cat incident to help promote the introduction of long awaited national animal welfare legislation.       "We're going to exhibit the cages that the cat butcher used to store cats and pigeons at the annual meeting,"  Zhang said.  "It will be a shock to most of them."       Agreed China Small Animals Protection Association vice president CaiMeng,  to Ng Tze Wei,  "The ultimate solution to animal protection lies in legislation,"  a goal of the association ever since it was formed in 1994.       "We cannot solely rely on empathy,"  CaiMeng said.       Added Ng Tze Wei,  "Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference representative HuQiheng,  who accompanied the association to collect the cats from Tianjin,  has drafted a petition to be presented when the conference convenes its annual session in March."-- Merritt CliftonEditor,  ANIMAL PEOPLEP.O. Box 960Clinton,  WA  98236<br />
  71. 71. Leafleting <br />
  72. 72. Freeing Animals Ready for Transport in Nanjing, China<br />
  73. 73. Public Memorial Vigils <br />
  74. 74. Rescued and Shelter Bound<br />
  75. 75. A Safe Place<br />
  76. 76. The Emerging Chinese Activists<br />
  77. 77. Freed from the Hook<br />
  78. 78. Emerging Activism:Institutional Tactics<br />Examples of institutional techniques emerging in China include:<br />The new animal welfare law. <br />Exposure of the cat/dog meat issue through songs, internet sources such as Youtube and traditional news media such as, CNN.<br />Working directly with police and government officials to capture and curtail and transport. <br />School/community humane education talks. <br />Local community shelters and TNR programs.<br />
  79. 79. Message in Music<br />
  80. 80. Education Outreach to Community and Schools<br />
  81. 81. Community-Based Animal Sheltering for Dogs<br />
  82. 82. And for Cats<br />
  83. 83. A Safe Place to Live…Food to Eat<br />
  84. 84. Population ControlTNR in Beijing and Shanghai<br />
  85. 85. But:Spay Techniques are Complicated<br />
  86. 86. Institutional Laws for Animals<br />There is no general law on animal welfare, all three regulations that meet the definition and the principles of animal welfare are related to wildlife. They relate to wildlife as a natural resource and the protection for the purpose of human utilization.<br />They are: Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife, Regulations for the Implementation of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Terrestrial wildlife, and Regulations of the People's Republic of China on the Implementation of Wild Aquatic Animal Protection. <br />The laws and regulations have a very narrow definition of wildlife. In Chapter 1 of LPRCPW, wildlife...are rare or near extinction and the species and...which are beneficial or of important economic or scientific value<br />
  87. 87. General Laws and Regulations<br />Wildlife Protection Law<br />Animal Epidemic Prevention Law<br />Livestock Husbandry Law<br />Pig Slaughter Regulations<br />Laboratory Animal Management Regulations<br />
  88. 88. First Animal Welfare Law Drafted<br />The newest expert draft of a proposed act which expands protections for animals was released on March 17. The new version, “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law” replaces the previous "Animal Anti-cruelty Act" and includes some new items not present in the earlier draft released in September 2009, such as banning the mistreatment of animals by starvation, and forbidding the slaughter of animals in the presence of youths. <br />The draft law will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in March, said Chang Jiwen, head of the drafting team and director of the Department of Social Law under the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. <br />Chang added, after the release of the original draft last September, the drafting team had received over 700 suggestions from the public as of mid-January 2010. <br />
  89. 89. Current Expert Draft Status <br />Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law of the PRC (Experts’ Draft Proposal)<br />To be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC<br />Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to Amend the Criminal Law of the PRC to Protect Animals<br />Using the rule of law to promote the development of social morals, in particular by addition to Chapter Six ‘Offence of Jeopardising Social Management and Order’, Section One ‘Offence of Disrupting Public Order’, the following Articles: ‘Offence of Cruelty Towards Animals’, ‘Offence of Disseminating Photographic Images of Cruelty Towards Animals’, ‘Offence of Abandonment of Animals’.<br />
  90. 90. New Cat/Dog Meat Protection under Anti-Cruelty Draft Law<br />Article 59 (Bleeding, Flaying, Scalding or Dehairing/Defeathering)<br />Animals may not be flayed, scalded, dehaired, defeathered, eviscerated or delimbed before death.<br />After stunning animals should immediately be rapidly, cleanly and thoroughly bled.<br />
  91. 91. Author of Law Draft of Animal Protection Law Code in China<br />Professor Chang Jiwen<br />Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Law<br />15 ShatanBeiJie<br />Beijing<br />People's Republic of China 100720<br />Email:<br />Mobile telephone: +86 15810477742<br />
  92. 92. In ConclusionA Growing Love For Animals<br />
  93. 93. There’s No Place Like Home<br />
  94. 94. Even After the Earthquake<br />
  95. 95. Concluding Comments<br />The terror of being skinned alive, intense confinement and brutal capture and transport are important to remember when people question if this is only a cultural difference in food preferences. Yet, the similarities of this situation to the treatment of food animals in the US are striking.<br />Cats are stored in warehouses up to 40-50 in one crate for several days before the long, frightening journey to Guangdong. Many are dead and injured during storage and transport.<br />I have seen the conditions of cats who were rescued after having been eight days without food and water. I tried sohard to save several of them with fluids and force feeding, but some are too traumatized to make it. Their systems have shut down or they simply have that vacant (shell shocked) look in their eyes and have, at some level, left their bodies. <br />
  96. 96. The Story of Fu and Rugger<br />
  97. 97. A Story Book Ending in the US<br />
  98. 98. For More Information<br />Act-Asia, Ping An Afu, Beautiful New World, Lucky Cats, People4Chinese Animals<br />Animals Asia Foundation<br />Animal People<br />Hong Kong SPCA<br />Humane Society International (HSUS)<br />People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Asia-Pacific Division<br />IFAW, RSPCA, WSPA<br />
  99. 99. Acknowledgements<br />Special thanks to my students at CASS for assisting in the research for this presentation. <br />Special thanks to local animal rescue groups for the photos used in this presentation. <br />Special thanks to those organizations who have invited me to give this presentation.<br />And for those animals in these photos who have passed on; we cared. <br />