If you’re a fan of all things furry, scaly, toothy, fluffy, and just plain adorable, stop reading.
A lot of people in China own a pet. Though the people live in apartments mirroring the dimensions of a cell in prison, most will happily buy/adopt a furry or scaly critter off the street.
What I have seen on the street –
Goldfish in heat sealed bags for keychains.
Fighting fish in 5x5x5cm tanks isolated amongst cacti.
Rabbits in cages no bigger than they are.
Puppies stacked three deep to protect against the winter wind in steel barred cages (no adequate floor for them to stand on means poor lil twisted ankles incoming).
A turtle in a ceramic bowl under a glass table trying to scratch its way out.
Puppies chained up outside for eight hours a day, with no playtime.
Kittens let loose to turn feral and scour the food vendor streets at night.
Most of the time you won’t see any food or water next to these animals either.
I’m still not quite iron-hearted as to walk past any of them without a twinge. But coming to China means turning your personal feel dial down to ‘almost heartless’, if you are going to survive. I think I only have one existential crisis a week now. There are no animal protection laws (nor are there any child protection laws) in China; they are still in draft form to be approved by the National People’s Congress.
The chances of those bills passing in the next five years? Don’t get your hopes up.
And here is an account of what happens when somebody thinks they have ‘rescued’ an animal –
A co-worker of mine knocked on my door yesterday. I opened up to this adorable white and black fluffball of a puppy thrust into my face with the words ‘this is Baosi, can he come play?’ chasing its wiggly tail. After letting both of them in I found out that a student on campus had purchased Baosi from a pet shop.
Now pets are banned on campus, and the director found out pretty quickly. So my co-worker took Baosi from her student, and the plan she concocted was to rotate ownership of him between her, myself, and the other two foreign teachers. As foreigners we can get away with a lot of things here, but keeping a puppy? I don’t think so.
Poor Baosi hadn’t eaten anything in about five days, because his first owner was an absolute idiot and decided against buying real animal food, settling for animal substitute nutrient bricks of shit instead. As soon as my co-worker acquired Baosi she promptly……sprayed Chanel perfume on the pup. Apparently he smelled. What the hell co-worker, I can feel the dog’s ribs and you think Chanel is going to fix that? I gave him some random meat I had bought from the supermarket solely for the name (beer ham) it smelt horrible, tasted okay, Baosi was just happy it was edible I think.
The lack of logic, as far as the value of life in China, is infuriating some days.
Now in a final plot-twist It appears my co-worker is allergic to the dog, and the choices available in this saga are either all us foreign teachers adopt him at risk of worm/flea infestation/rabies/threat of work termination, or the dog goes back to die.
Oh, and Baosi entered into my PLECO dictionary gives me the definition of: die of a sudden illness. Unsure if premonition.
All aboard the feeltrain, destination Lie-in-a-ball-and-cry-ville.