years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
China Companion Animal Symposium goes from strength to strength
The third China Companion Animal Symposium was held at the Sichuan Hotel in Chengdu over the weekend of 9-10 May 2009.
The symposium, the first to be held in the city of Chengdu, home to our China Bear Rescue Centre, was attended by some 130 delegates, representing 63 animal-welfare groups and veterinary clinics.
Animals Asia first organised this event back in 2006, with the aim of bringing local Chinese welfare groups together to share experiences and ideas.
The event was co-sponsored by Animals Asia and Humane Society International (HSI). Animal Guardians also kindly contributed funds.
Opening the symposium on the Saturday morning, Jill Robinson from Animals Asia, and Peter Li from HSI, welcomed the delegates, and set the scene for the talks and discussions to come. They were ably assisted by symposium mascots Tremor and Richter, two dogs rescued during the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, who immediately drew the attention of everyone in the audience. Jill spoke passionately of the need for advocates of animal welfare to spread respect for all life.
The symposium was divided into six sessions over a day and a half. In each session, delegates heard talks from several speakers, followed by time for questions and discussion.
In the first session on emergency relief, Jill Robinson spoke about Animals Asia's response to the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, and the rescue of more than 100 pet dogs. Hayley Walters, from Animals Asia's veterinary team at the China Bear Rescue Centre, summarised the efforts to rescue and manage 147 dogs confiscated from meat traders on New Years Eve 2008, at the Qiming dog rescue centre.
Peter Li of HSI spoke of the importance of having nationwide plans for animal rescue in emergencies, referring to the experiences in the United States during Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005. The speakers were followed by a lively discussion on the role of euthanasia in rescued animal management.
Professor Chang Jiwen, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, began the second session on the development of China's animal-welfare legislation, by outlining the progress that had been made to date.
Qiao Na of the Qiming Small Animal Protection Centre discussed the shelters experiences working with government during the confiscation of dogs from meat traders, and Liu Xiao Yun of Shanghai Animal Welfare spoke about bringing action against illegal cat traders. It would seem that the roots for welfare law development are now firmly in place in China.
The challenges of financial management faced by dog and cat shelters were discussed in the third session, which included talks by Ha Wen Jin of Ping An A Fu, Jiang Hong of Xi’an Small Animal Protection Association, and a representative of Home of Love. This was followed by advice on how to run a successful trap, neuter, release (TNR) programme for cats from Calais Sin of the Hong Kong SPCA, and representatives of Beijing New World and Xixi Cat from Guangzhou.
Dr John Wu, a veterinarian from Guangzhou, gave us his thoughts on how private veterinary clinics and animal-welfare groups can work together to ensure the success of TNR programmes.
The final session of the first day concerned the operation of veterinary services by welfare groups, with Hai Nan Small Animal Protection Association, Ha Wen Jin from Ping An A Fu, and Jiang Hong from Xi’an Small Animal Protection Association, sharing their experiences.
Delegates from the symposium.
The session on Sunday morning concentrated on the cooperation between welfare groups and how this can be enhanced. Christie Yang from Animals Asia described the successes, and some of the lessons learned, from Animals Asia's Friends... or Food? education grant programme, and the activities of the Friends of Animals Asia Alliance.
Shen Cheng from ActAsia spoke of cooperation between international and local groups. Representatives from three local Chinese groups, Xia Men Pet Net, Changsha Small Animal Protection Group, and Xi’an Small Animal Protection Association, described examples of successful event sharing between groups.
Finally, Mark Jones of Animals Asia described the ongoing problems associated with live animal feeding in China's wildlife parks, and appealed to local groups to help with information gathering on this issue.
The conference closed with messages of thanks and encouragement from Jill Robinson and Peter Li, and the unanimous passing of the following resolutions:
To work together to urge the Chinese government to enact animal-welfare legislation.
To increase training for veterinary care, and training for volunteers and shelter management.
To further develop public education, and promote responsible pet ownership and animal welfare.
To build up a more solid Friends of Animals Asia Alliance to share information and speak out for animals with one voice.
To promote desexing and implement more desexing programmes.
To promise never to visit zoos, circuses or safari parks that promote live-animal feeding or wild animal performances.
To call on the Chinese government – again – to ban the consumption of dogs and cats countrywide.
Finally delegates agreed unanimously to try to go vegetarian one day per week to encourage respect for all life and promote healthy people, healthy animals, and a healthy planet.
The delegates enjoyed an excellent vegetarian lunch and dinner prepared by the Sichuan Hotel on Saturday. After the formal proceedings came to a close on Sunday, the delegates were taken to Animals Asia's China Bear Rescue Centre, about an hour away by coach, to enjoy a vegetarian lunch followed by a tour around the centre.
Our thanks go to our co-sponsors, to all the speakers and delegates who gave up their time to attend and contribute, to the Sichuan Hotel for hosting the event, to the interpreters who did such a good job translating everything between English and Mandarin, and especially to our China Relations Director Christie Yang and her team for organising such a worthwhile and successful symposium. We look forward to the next one in 2010.
Christie Yang from Animals Asia introduces the symposium.
Jill Robinson opens proceedings with the help of Tremor the dog.
Peter Li of HSI welcomes the delegates.
Delegates were treated to a vegetarian lunch at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre.