on particularly cold days, the homeless puppies of china’s jiulongjiang forest park will bark until this canteen stove is lit by workers, and then spend hours huddled around it for warmth.
china has an estimated 130 million street dogs who are subjected to a policy of extermination in most cities (including live burial). many of the dogs are abandoned when owners move into high rise buildings that either don’t have room or don’t allow the animals.
having dogs as companion animals was only recently made legal in china, as it was considered a bourgoise pastime by mao zedong, who saw compassion for non human animals as counter revolutionary. it remains illegal to keep a dog taller than 35 centimeters in the cities, though this law is increasingly being defied.
attitudes towards animal welfare in china are changing as a growing urban middle class has seen more people wanting to keep dogs as companions. that said, it is still common for dogs to be beaten to death in the streets — often by police officers and in broad view of young children — as no animal welfare or cruelty laws yet exist in the country.
but as mang ping, a professor at china’s central institute of socialism, notes, “ancient manuscripts show that animal protection was the first activity to be regulated by the ancient dynasties,” adding, “our culture is embedded in benevolence, which is the core of buddhism [and daoism]. if we lose benevolence, we lose chinese culture.”
and benevolence, along with shifting attitudes, is what you see in these photos. no longer are the animals viewed either as food or a nuisance. learn more about dog welfare in china at animals asia foundation and the above links.