Unique joint force to resolve stray animal problems in China

Veterinary workshops on the latest neutering techniques are being held in Shenzhen and Beijing from April 27th to May 7th, 2009. The workshops will also discuss the essential role of vets in promoting animal welfare and ways to improve welfare and neutering techniques through practical demonstration and operations in a clinical setting. This is the first programme of its kind initiated by animal protection groups in collaboration with veterinary bodies to tackle the stray animal problems in China.

The stray cat population is growing rapidly because of animals being abandoned by irresponsible owners and the reproduction of cats living on the streets. These animals suffer from a lack of food, exposure to disease and accidents, and even deliberate cruelty from people who are against these animals. They can also be a cause of road accidents, noise pollution and destruction of wildlife.

The public is not aware of the importance of neutering. A humane policy to control stray animals, and regulations to control breeding farms and pet shops, are still to be developed. Too many animals are in need of good homes, and neutering all stray and owned animals would be a big step towards reducing populations of stray animals.

Pei Su, Director of ACTAsia for Animals, a UK charity, stated: “This workshop marks the first time in Shenzhen that private vets and animal protection groups have come together collectively to try and resolve stray animal problems.” It is also the first time in Shenzhen that a local animal protection group has organised a veterinary event to control stray populations without government support. This programme is also the first in China to emphasise the importance of professional training for veterinary assistants, who will be included in this programme.

This workshop will be led by experienced vets and vet nurses who are members of Australian group Vets Beyond Borders. Dr. Elaine Ong, one of the vets conducting the sessions, said, “The workshop aims to improve technical skills, enhance an understanding of animal welfare, and increase collaboration between vets and animal protection groups.” It will cover the neutering of cats and dogs, including techniques to neuter animals from the age of eight weeks. It will also cover the use of painkillers, humane handling, nursing, ethics, radiology, surgical techniques and treatment of common diseases. Over fifty participants, consisting of vets and their assistants, are attending the workshop in Shenzhen. The workshop in Beijing will have sixteen participants who are vets and vet assistants.

According to Zhang Yuan Yuan, Founder of ShenzhenCats (SZCats), “Improving neutering techniques and promoting the importance of animal welfare during operations will hopefully help to control stray cat populations and improve the effectiveness of our rescue programme. SZCats hopes that this programme will be a step towards helping the public and government to understand the importance of neutering and its impact on tackling humane stray animal control, and will improve the welfare of stray animals in China.”

Qin Xiao Na, Director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, Beijing, commented: “Promoting a high quality and quantity of neutering is very important, as it will help us tremendously to humanely manage the stray animal problem in China.”

Vets have an essential role to play in promoting animal welfare. Many vets in other countries often take animal welfare into consideration when treating animals, and some of them are also actively involved in animal protection work. Dr. Lu Yan, Director of Beijing Xi Jiao Animal Hospital, said: “The initiative not only provides us with the opportunity to exchange experience on animal neutering, but also gives us the opportunity to discuss face to face how to apply animal welfare principles in our clinical practice. We support this initiative as we feel that it will help us to improve the welfare of animals, a primary goal for vets, and reduce the number of strays.”

Dr Xie Jian Meng, Head of the Shenzhen Veterinary Clinics Association, has welcomed this programme as an opportunity to exchange knowledge with other experienced vets. He stated: “More and more vets in Shenzhen want to collaborate with animal protection groups on the stray animal issue. From the technical point of view, the methods we are using in China are different from some of the overseas techniques, and it is important for vets in Shenzhen to learn the latest techniques. We expect this programme to increase our effectiveness and improve animal welfare in our clinics.”

We would like to thank Dr Elaine Ong, Dr Beth McGennisken, Ms Ann Letch and Ms Robyn Ireland, the trainers at our workshop, for giving so generously of their expertise, time and resources. Our thanks also go out to Vets Beyond Borders, for their resources and support, and to our sponsors, Humane Society International and Naturewatch, who made this possible. Thanks also to Box Hill Institute, Melbourne, for permission to use their nursing manual.

  Practice and theoretical sessions in Shenzhen