I love holidays in China.
Not only is everything still open, even post offices and banks, but the traffic is light. Getting across town in a taxi or bus is quick and easy. This is why today was scheduled as vaccination day for the animals.
The last time I went to the vet’s, it took me 1 ½ hours to get there due to city street overloads, then another 40 minutes to get back. But because of today’s holiday, with no one rushing to or from work, fewer cars were on the roads and taxis were plentiful. It was a perfect day for loading up the critters and getting important pet business done.
In previous blogs, I mentioned that only 3% of all pets in China are vaccinated, mostly because of owners’ ignorance. Due to this, many animals die because of canine or feline diseases which could have been prevented with a few quick injections.
In the northern provinces, rabies among pets and domestic strays is very serious. Over 2,300 human rabies deaths were reported last year because of bites from infected animals. According to Dr. Q, because of this high number, pets in the north are to have rabies vaccinations every year but in southern China, we are only required to have these every 3 years. This seems to follow with some DVM experts. I’ve read a number of professional veterinarian websites that do state we over-vaccinate our animals and that annual boosters, while required by U.S. law, may not really be necessary.
Of course, the Chinese government urges owners to have their animals vaccinated and requires rabies, but there has been little follow through on checking for this. As pet ownership has become more popular in the country, I’m guessing there most likely will soon be a surge to enforce this.
Already in some cities, vaccinations and pet ownership rules are strictly followed. In Beijing, where over 1 million canines are reported to live, there is a size restriction for dogs staying within the city limits: 35 cm tall and under or the dog, if discovered, will be confiscated by authorities. Also restricted are the number of dogs a person can have. In Beijing, it’s one and only one. Registering your pet with the proper city authorities is likewise a must. In Shanghai, the initial processing fee is 1,000 yuan ($142) with an additional 2,000 yuan ($285) paid every year to update the license. Beijing, on the other hand, requires an annual 5,000 yuan ($715) license fee. Of course, the license is only given along with proof that the animal has been properly vaccinated and is free of disease.
Cats, however, are able to roam more freely throughout China. Licenses and registration fees are waived for felines giving them somewhat the run of the country.
In Chengdu, we currently have no pet ordinances at all. Anyone can have a pet of any size and any number. Some animal lovers think we are very lucky. But lax rules come with them a number of problems, including a lot of sick animals with no vaccinations and an overabundance of puppy farms, where animals are bred under unsanitary conditions in large numbers.
Little Flower was brought into the world in such a way. Lucky for her, I snatched her away before she became too ill to cure.
Before gathering both dog and cat into their carriers, I gave Dr. Q’s clinic a call to make sure he was present. Although the staff can easily give vaccinations, Little Flower’s allergy problems required a short consultation. Previously, we had decided that a reduced dose would do for now with a follow-up booster 15 days later. Talking to Dr. Q on the phone, his suggestion still remained unchanged.
The trip across town was without incident and a very quick one. Upon arrival at Greatest Love Animal Hospital, I found Dr. Q was finishing up a cat spay in his operating room. LF’s and LG’s temperatures were taken and after Dr. Q finished his surgery, he came out to see to my needs.
Since the last time I had this done, the cost for vaccinations has gone up from 50 yuan a booster or shot ($7.15) to 60 yuan ($8.60). Dr. Q uses the overseas’ variety, such as Intervet, rather than the cheaper Chinese brands, due to the better quality and trustworthiness of the vaccine.
I must say I was a very proud mother as both animals did extremely well with their injections. There was no barking, whining, biting, yowling, clawing or scratching from anyone. The veterinarian assistants are very adept at their jobs and neither animal felt a thing as carefully trained, gentle hands gave the shots.
Along with the inoculations came 2 vaccination certificates which will be filled in with every visit. Another 15 days will have us back at the clinic again for a second booster and then another 15 days after that. Hopefully, that will take care of both of them for the year.
My only concern now is finding Little Ghost a good home. Two families have backed out on me and one, while very willing to take her, wanted her to live on their open-air, filthy balcony rooftop without house or people privileges. Their current cat, living under such conditions with no vaccinations, was in very poor shape when I saw him. He was also crying at the door for attention. While I’m sure he needs the company, I’m a bit hesitant for LG to live out her life in such a way.
She’s survived a motherless kittenhood and now an earthquake. I think she deserves a bit better than that.
From Chengdu, wishing you and all our animal friends “Ping An!” (Peace)
REMINDER FOR AID IN BUYING TENTS, VACCINES, AND OTHER SUPPLIES FOR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EFFORTS
United Methodists: UMCOR Advance #982450, International Disaster Response, China Earthquake