Launch of ‘concern for life’ media forums

ACTAsia’s China Manager Isobel Zhang has been holding a series of media forums in Shenzhen to increase awareness on important animal welfare issues in the country. The forums discuss major animal issues which have caused great public/media concern, or have a serious impact on the animal welfare movement. These are popular discussion events where journalists are invited and which are open to the public.

Our first media forum in May discussed the incident in Beijing on April 15th, 2011, where thousands of animal lovers stopped a truck packed with dogs, without food or water, that was heading to a slaughterhouse in northeast China.

The forum was hosted by Gao Haiyun, who was Miss Shenzhen 2005 and is also ACTAsia China’s Compassion Ambassador. According to her: “People in Beijing are concerned about the abuse of cats and dogs, and take spontaneous action to prevent it.”

The forum also invited An Xiang, an attorney who is the author of Using existing Chinese legislation to protect animals, to give a detailed review on the legality of the case above and also cover how animal activists can stop similar cases in future by using existing laws. He said: “People should report and prevent the illegal transportation of cats and dogs, using food safety laws in the absence of any animal protection law in China. He also pointed out why most transportation of dogs and cats was illegal. Even though transporters seem to have complete quarantine certificates, these are invalid without the anti-rabies stamp, and most transporters omit this stamp.

During the forum, ACTAsia emphasized the importance of focusing on the suffering of animals in the trade. Isobel Zhang, stated: “The argument about dog eating has always been focused on whether or not people should eat dog meat. But the abuse and pain suffered by the animals involved has always been ignored. This shows a lack of understanding of companion animal welfare in modern society. The way animals were cruelly abused, smuggled and hurt should not be ignored.” Understanding this abuse will make people take action to reduce the pain of innocent animals.

Participants from different professions all agreed that animal protection in China should be integrated with international animal welfare science, which is constantly developing. We humans require a civilized environment, which also means protecting animals from fear and abuse. Events like these remind the public of our relationship with animals and our duty to protect animals which could lead to the introduction of legislation and the progress of civilization.

The discussion was very interactive and several newspapers reported on the forum.