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Chinese Perceptions Of Animals And Pet Keeping


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China Culture, Animal Pain and Suffering, Companion Animals, Ethnographic Research

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Chinese Perceptions Of Animals And Pet Keeping

  1. 1. Cultural Perceptions of Animals and Pet Keeping among Chinese Elderly:Some Preliminary Findings <br />Sharon Warner Methvin, PhD<br />,<br />
  2. 2. 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 />
  3. 3. Rural Perceptions <br />
  4. 4. Dogs protect livestock and property<br />
  5. 5. Rodent control and protection of grain<br />
  6. 6. Domestic animals as utilitarian companions<br />
  7. 7. 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 />
  8. 8. Pet Ownership as the New Status Symbol. Cost 800RMB from Breeder. (Died of Parvo)<br />
  9. 9. 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 />
  10. 10. 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 />
  11. 11. Chinese Academy of Social Science Students Conduct Interviews in Parks <br />
  12. 12. Chaoyang Park in Beijing<br />
  13. 13. 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 />
  14. 14. 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 />
  15. 15. 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 />
  16. 16. 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 />
  17. 17. 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 />
  18. 18. 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 />
  19. 19. 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 />
  20. 20. 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 />
  21. 21. 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 />
  22. 22. 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 />
  23. 23. 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 />
  24. 24. In ConclusionA Growing Love For Animals<br />
  25. 25. There’s No Place Like Home<br />
  26. 26. 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 />