A new shelter for stray animals is already full after opening two weeks ago because it has been inundated with unwanted pets.
Jin Pu, president of Pets Rescue Centre in suburban Shanghai, said more than half of their 60-some animals are domestic pets instead of strays.
"They are clean and well-fed. You know they are not stray animals at first sight," Jin told China Daily yesterday, adding they had received various pleas for help from pet owners since the opening of the two-storey building on Lianhua Nanlu, Minhang District.
An elderly couple sent their dog to the centre, saying that their deteriorating health meant they were struggling to take care of the pet, which was also growing old and needed more and more care.
"We accepted that without any question," Jin said, "but a woman said that her son is taking the college entrance examination, so she wants to give up the dog. Isn't that excuse ridiculous?"
There are no laws over abandoning pets, which has left organizations like the rescue centre vulnerable to being overwhelmed with animals.
It is unable to take in any more animals as it is already at its capacity.
Xue Ying, a woman actively involved in rescuing stray cats in the city, said: "We can't make our foster care centre known to the public because people would send cats by the dozen to our door,"
Many people working with stray pets have similar problems, and some end up hoarding dozens of cats in their own homes.
Pets Rescue Centre was opened with private investment of 200,000 yuan (US$24,690) coming from Jin and Jack Xia, the vice-president of the project. They hope it will become Shanghai's largest animal shelter. "That target we will never give up. It's just that at the moment, our capacity doesn't allow more animals here," Jin said.
More than 10 dogs reside in cages in a room above the main office of the centre, while cats wander freely in the room. In an area separated by glass walls, sick animals are kept away from the others.
"Some are away with temporary foster families at the moment. It was much worse here last week," said a volunteer working in the centre.
"If we can't guarantee a good living condition for animals here in the centre, they may be better out there going on straying. It is our primary concern that we take care of these animals first," Jin said.
Jin said the complex was desperate for more helpers to come forward.
"So far, more than 500 people have registered as volunteers, but no more than five of them have actually come to help with the work."
(China Daily December 30, 2005)