Committing your time and energy to the protection of animals in Shanghai is not an easy task. Last year Anna Ferage along with a group of like-minded volunteers created People 4 Pets. These guys are an inspiration, they work extremely hard and in a short time P4P have already made a huge difference to the lives of some very sick animals in Shanghai. We invited Anna to tell us a bit more about P4P and give some guidance to the world of adoption in Shanghai.
Hi Anna, tell us about yourself. What brought you to Shanghai?
I’m a mother of two toddlers, mother of one Springer Spaniel, a Shanghai street cat and a proud foster mum of a greyhound found paralysed on the streets of Minhang. I’ve been in China for 11 years, met my husband in Beijing and moved to Shanghai 8 years ago. I have loved dogs and cats since I can remember and knew I wanted to work with animals but never had the chance until we started People for Pets. Before that, I believed the only way I could work with animals was if i won the lottery and could set up a mobile vet clinic. Fair to say the chances of that happening were quite slim but thankfully i didn’t need to get rich first before getting involved!
People 4 Pets is an amazing organisation and has quickly made a name for itself in Shanghai – tell us about what you do?
We started out primarily as a group dedicated to funding medical and rehabilitation costs of animals with severe medical problems. We aspired to help the animals that no one else wanted to help. Since our launch last May, we have helped many animals including sending some animals overseas for medical treatment and better lives. P4P has a members club, where our members help us fund the vet bills, support us through volunteering in various ways (transporting animals to vets, fostering, designing our promotional materials, translating and helping out in events amongst others).
You were involved with the creation of P4P, what inspired you to do this?
Myself and a group of people met through volunteering at a dog shelter. When we realised that conditions in the shelter were only getting worse despite our help, we realised that the best way we could help the animals was to take them out of the shelter, one by one, treat their medical problems and find them new homes. This led us to create a group, organise ourselves and our resources in order to help as many animals as possible, from shelters and from the streets.
What are the biggest challenges you face running such an organisation in China?
Our biggest challenges involve getting adequate funding to pay our vet bills. We also struggle to increase our network of foster homes, which act as the backbone of our organisation. We do not operate a shelter. Many of the animals that we rescue greatly benefit from time in a foster home, where they can get used to being in a home environment and for those animals that had medical problems, a foster home allows them to recuperate before being adopted. Another challenge that we face is trying to encourage people to adopt a dog or cat that may be old or has medical issues.
What are the upsides and downsides to running an animal organisation in China?
It is the best feeling in the world when we save an animal and incredibly rewarding when we see them recover and get adopted by loving family. We get opportunities to promote awareness and education about animal welfare issues throughout many sectors of society
On the down side, the scale of the problem we face in China is vast, even in Shanghai we can only help a small percentage of those animals in need. We feel frustration when we encounter cases of animal cruelty as there is nothing that can be done to punish the perpetrators of this abuse due to the lack of legislation protecting animals.
What advice would you give to our readers who are considering getting a Pet in Shanghai?
First of all – Adopt, don’t shop. Puppy mill conditions are cruel, buying a pet is encouraging the trade. The dogs bought from these places are often known as “one week” puppies, many dogs are diseased and will die in the first week breaking your heart and hurting your wallet with a hefty vets bill. Puppies that survive often have genetic issues due to poor breeding and socialisation issues because they are removed from their mother and siblings far too soon.
Secondly, choose your vet carefully. Not all veterinary clinics are good, some are incompetent, others unnecessarily expensive. Best to ask a friend for a recommendation or feel free to contact as us at P4P.
Thirdly, don’t underestimate the importance of vaccinating your pet in Shanghai as an unvaccinated animal can fall prey to some of the nasty viruses found on the streets.
Finally, for dog owners, you must get a dog licence to make sure that your dog cannot be taken away from you should you ever come across a government dog catcher. It is illegal to have an unlicensed dog in Shanghai. License your dog and make sure they wear a dog tag with your telephone number on it.
Lastly, you’ve been here for a long time and know China probably better than most. What is your number one top tip you’d give a Shanghai newcomer?
Get networking! The more people you know in a place like Shanghai the easier it will be and the more you will enjoy your stay. Thanks to We Chat it is easier than ever before to connect to people that have similar interests.
And my top tip related to animals is that it is possible to make a difference to those dogs and cats that you may come across; whether they are stray cats that need food near your home, or whether it is a dog in bad shape on the street, please do not look the other way.
To find our more about P4P, visit their website at www.people-for-pets.org or find them on We Chat here: