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Shelter makes urgent plea for pet lovers

JANE Su never thought she would be in such a dilemma.

The Singaporean business woman who manages the city's first animal shelter for cats and dogs found herself in a tough spot. She said the shelter in Baoshan District has seen a rise in the number of incoming strays, but not enough people have adopted the pets since opening in May.

Though animal lovers welcomed the shelter and keep bringing in more lost or abandoned pets, only five dogs have been adopted in the past three months, Su said.

Shelter staff said most people probably don't know it exists, but at the same time, they worry that media exposure might trigger more people to leave their pets, exceeding their capacity to care for the animals.

"I'm always struggling with the question of whether I should promote our shelter these days," Su told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

As a member of the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association, Su devoted all her weekends this year to setting up the shelter.

The Baoshan shelter can accommodate up to 40 pets at a time. It was founded by the association, the only non-profit organization recognized by the city government to promote animal welfare. It now has more than 20 dogs waiting to be adopted.

"We hope that more people come to us for adoption rather than abandoning their animals." Zhang Yi, the founder and the association president said.

Lots of strays

Shanghai is estimated to have more than 100,000 stray cats and dogs. Many were once pets, but were abandoned by their owners. Some kind people rescue these animals and try to find new homes for them, association officials said.

Su said in the past that these people often used the Internet to find someone to adopt a rescued animal, but that it was very inconvenient and time consuming as they would have to travel around the city frequently to meet potential adopters.

"After looking at what is done in other countries, we thought it was necessary to find a fixed place for the animals as they await adoption."

The shelter charges 200 yuan (US$29.28) per pet for sterilization and an injection, a fee shelter operators said is to ensure "the adopter really likes the pet and will not use them to make a profit."

Su said a different mindset between Chinese and foreigners may also be part of the reason few pets have been adopted. She said pet adoption is more accepted among foreigners. "We hope that more Chinese people will join us."


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