I’ve always loved animals, but never really had time — or made time — for them before moving to China. Here, I’ve been faced with the sad reality that there is no protection for animals. Yes, in America animal cruelty still happens on a regular basis. But the difference is night and day here, where you see animals suffering in terrible conditions everyday.
Sometimes I feel like giving up and just saying, “Well, it’s a cultural difference, nothing I can do.” Then I read about and started meeting people in China who were passionate about helping animals. That’s how I met Judy.
Judy is a lady who has been living in Shenzhen for almost twenty years. When she first came here from up north, she tells the story of how she took a bus almost two hours from Luohu over terrible dirt roads. People on the bus had all sorts of crazy things: shipping crates, snakes, live monkeys. She made a nice amount of money in the antique furniture business.
She stumbled in to helping animals quite by accident. There’s a big “chicken street” in Shekou and one of the prostitutes gave her a dog when she couldn’t take care of it. That dog was GoGo, and he is more than 17 years old today. Over the years, more and more people gave her dogs and came to her for help with their animals. For awhile, she had a big team of volunteers. But the difficulties of managing volunteers and lack of help from the government caught up with her, so she accepts very few dogs now.
She is very strict about taking care of dogs. She never takes more dogs than she can take care of. She walks them every single day at 8:00am and 5:00pm. She spends her own money on vet care and medicine. She interviews people and visits their homes before allowing them to take an animal.
Back to how I met Judy. It was two years after we moved here, and we were finally ready to get a dog. I don’t believe in buying designer dogs, especially when they come from terrible conditions like puppy mills (and many here die soon after purchase due to health problems). I was very excited to hear about a local lady named Judy who offered rescue dogs for adoption. Back then, she had 7-8 dogs available. We entered the small garden by her furniture shop and the dogs went crazy. One dog in particular kept biting my leggings and demanding attention.
That dog turned out to be Brownie, the doggy love of my life. The prostitutes found his mother on chicken street, hurt and scared. Soon after she gave birth to puppies, and Brownie was one of them. His brothers and sisters live all over the world.
Last Friday was Brownie’s birthday. It is an event that started as a joke and has now become incredibly serious! Judy and I started planning months ago and I spent more than a week making the decorations by hand. We had a photo booth and handmade cake. Twelve dogs came, including Brownie’s mom, Coco, who now has a loving home too.
It was a great chance to spend time with other dog owners and their dogs. It is still a tiny, tiny community here in Shenzhen. I’m looking forward to the next few years as awareness grows and more services and community are available for pet owners.
For more information, join our facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/shekoupets.
Have you ever owned a pet abroad or thought of getting one? I’d love to read about your experiences.
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