When I first moved to China, living in my apartment alone was a very empty existence. Back in America, we have a house full of animals; always have. Living in university provided housing meant I couldn’t have a roommate. The question became whether or not I would get a pet to keep me company.
It was a difficult decision to make, if I’m being completely honest. I didn’t want to be one of those people who got a pet on an impulse only to abandon it in a shelter later when things didn’t work out or when it was time to go home. Furthermore, I was afraid that if I were to get a pet I wouldn’t be able to afford its medical care. Would I have time for it? I worried about what I would do with it when I traveled or went home to America. I knew I wouldn’t leave it behind when I made the big move out of China, but I had no idea how to make that move. What legal procedures would I need to follow to get my pet back home? How much would it cost?
Ultimately, the decision was made for me when I heard of a cat in need of a home. I knew I wanted a cat because having a dog without a yard is just cruel, in my mind. In October of 2013, I met Toby and Toby met me. The year after that came Xiao Ping Guo (XPG), a kitten I found on the street during the Christmas season. Now I have two cats that I care for – even when they trample me during their midnight chases or knock my books off my desk.
There is an element of the unknown that I have to deal with every year. Whenever holidays come up I have to decide whether it’s worth the effort of traveling or not. If I do decide to travel, I have to find someone to either house my kitties or come to check on them while I’m gone. It’s impossible to plan too far ahead for such events. Basically I ask friends or even friends of friends to help me out. Fostering my kitties is a good way for people who aren’t ready or able to commit to a pet to enjoy having a pet for a short time.
The next obstacle was finding a vet. Fortunately, I was able to find a reliable and friendly vet on Wen Er Xi Lu. It’s a tiny little office but the workers are friendly and speak enough English for us to communicate without miming. They took care of XPG when she needed to get spayed and there were no complications. (There’s always a risk, in China, of faulty animal care. I’d heard horror stories about vets accidentally killing animals during surgery due to lack of proper education or experience.) It’s a big weight off my shoulders to know I can get help if I need it.
In the future, I plan to take my cats home with me to America. When the time comes both cats will need an International Health Certificate and a Rabies Vaccination and Certificate. Part of the process is a period of quarantine where the cats will be held to ensure their health. Further information for importing and exporting animals can be found here. I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes, though, so I’m not to worried about it now.
Despite the stress having pets abroad has added to my life, nothing can replace the affection and comfort they have given me. Pet ownership is a lifestyle and a commitment that should be taken seriously. If you’re interested in getting a pet, I encourage you to consider adoption before buying. There are so many animals in Hangzhou who are in need of a home – why not make them part of your family?
Animal Shelters in Hangzhou:
1. Xiaoheshan （小和山）- Hangzhou Stray Animal Rescue Center (杭州流浪动物救助基地)- Liu He Rd. Near the Changzheng Technical Institute (On the mountain behind it) 留和路 长征职业技术学院(后面山上)
2. Xiaoshan (萧山) – There is a shelter here run by an old woman that has been taking care of 200+ stray animals all by herself. Read her story here (Chinese).
If you know of any other shelters in Hangzhou, please contact us!Categories: Life, Resources, Stories