New push to take care of stray pets

Updated: 2014-04-16 07:07

By Eric Jou (China Daily)

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A giant dog and a cat flanked the sidewalk of Beijing's Shimao International Shopping Center on Saturday afternoon. The enormous stuffed animals were not an invasion but an effort to raise awareness about stray animals.

Sponsored by Purina Petcare, in conjunction with the Chinese animal-rescue group the Beijing Loving Animals Foundation, the event is the first of many to promote stray pet welfare across China.

According to a video provided by the BLAF, there are about 6 million stray cats and dogs in China. Purina's digital manager Wang Yue says the goal of Saturday's event in Beijing was to raise awareness of the issues of stray pets rather than push for adoptions.

"Within this project we haven't put the focus on actual adoption. Adoption is great but the true focus is to change people's perceptions and get attention on the root problem," says Wang. "People think stray animals are dirty or disgusting, so at this point the real focus should be education."

One of the leading pet food companies in the United States, Purina was purchased by Swiss-based Nestle in 2001. Purina is best known for pet food brands Dog Chow and Fancy Feast. While it is a leader in the industry in the West, Wang says the company is facing more than just competition from other companies, but rather issues with the way people treat pets in China.

"In the West people treat their animals like their friends and family," says Wang, "whereas here the pets are treated as animals, so they tend to get fed whatever is handy instead of something that is correct for their diet."

Wang says that the current promotion for stray-animal welfare is going to be a long-term one, adding that this is Purina's first major corporate social responsibility project in China.

The partnership with BLAF, Wang says, is a symbiotic one. BLAF has been working with various animal protection groups across China and has the experience and knowledge of the field. Purina has the money, resources and marketing abilities to promote better animal welfare.

The awareness push is currently aimed across five different cities in China - Shenzhen, Chengdu, Tianjin, Shanghai and Beijing.

Lu Ping, media manager with BLAF, says BLAF is launching a new online platform for animal adoption. The platform works in conjunction with the Purina website So far the platform has more than 600 animals ready for adoption.

On Saturday, BLAF gave out stuffed dogs and cats with digital bar codes to adults and children with links to stray animal information as well as adoption details.

Feng Liao stopped by the Beijing event with her 2-year-old son. Feng says she's very happy to attend events that promote animal welfare.

"You see a lot of stray animals on the streets and I think it's society's problem to deal with this," says Feng. "These kind of events are great. Purina has a great brand and they can bring awareness to the issue."

New push to take care of stray pets

(China Daily 04/16/2014 page20)