More than 30 people have taken animals to the largest aid center in Shanghai for stray cats and dogs since it opened last weekend, but employees of the center say many people are dropping off pets they no longer want, not strays - which has caused many headaches.
The 200-square-meter, non-profit Shanghai Pets Aid Center had received 12 dogs and about 20 cats as of yesterday.
But workers at the center say about 60 percent of the animals, mostly dogs, were never strays.
"Some of the owners actually lied to us saying they just picked up the dogs from the street," said Zhou Min, who helped set up the center.
"You can easily figure out the truth from the close and intimate bond the animals have with these people."
She said many of the abandoned animals were so depressed about losing their owners that they refused to eat or drink.
A nearby resident took his little black dog to the center a couple of days ago, saying he could no longer raise it after moving home.
The three-month old puppy hasn't eaten for the last two days, but remains in good health.
"Reasons for giving up the animals are various including moving home, not wanting the pets to distract the kids' study or simply because the dogs were too old or owners had no more patience for raising pets," Zhou said.
Pet owners are supposed to pay 75 yuan (US$9.28) a month to keep their unwanted dogs or cats at the shelter, which will try to find new owners for them.
"However, some just refused to acknowledge their ownership of the pets when bringing them here and few of them pay the money," Zhou said.
She said some people have also brought in sick dogs demanding they receive free medical attention.
"We have received a dog with serious eye problems and a skin disease in hopeless stage. The person who brought it here demanded we cure it for free and refused the idea of euthanasia to end its pain," Zhou said.
Other people have dropped off dogs without telling center employees they are sick.
"This increases the possibility of spreading diseases among the pets and also makes it difficult for us to learn about the animals' real physical condition."
The center has recently set up a program to allow people to take a pet home for a weekend - which should help with the depression some of the dogs and cats are suffering from.
"We also want more people to learn about the happiness of taking care of a little animal in need," Zhou said.
Eight dogs have been booked for a weekend, but no one has asked to take home a cat so far.
(Shanghai Daily December 22, 2005)