Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The State Of Dog Ownership In China

WHEN Basil the pet dog, died two years ago, my friend and her twin boys were really sad. Together they buried Basil in a corner of their neighborhood garden.

I wonder how many dogs and cats are buried there with Basil because the fluffy and loving pets come and go in that neighborhood.

Dealing with the dead bodies of pets is becoming a problem. Many people, like my friend, find their little sweeties an underground "home" in gardens or parks. Some irresponsible owners get rid of the bodies by leaving them on the street, in trash cans, or anywhere out of their sight. Few resort to professional cremation services for animals.

While throwing away dead pets is surely despicable, burying them is not such a good choice either because pathogens don't die when the animal is dead.

The pathogens can stay alive in the soil for one year and some spore bacteria for several years. This could pose a threat to the environment, especially to groundwater.

Leaving dead animals in the street is even worse. Imagine the potential danger during the period of avian flu if a person throws his pet bird — which has suddenly and mysteriously died — in a trash can.

All in all, cremation is the safest way — fire kills all the bacteria and parasites — and it is the proper way to farewell one's beloved animal friends.

It is amazing how far China has to go when it comes to pet ownership. Communist China banned dog ownership during the Cultural Revolution. Further, dogs were used as food, guard dogs for the rich, pets for the rich, and as fighting dogs for gambling purposes. The whole idea of pet ownership is new there, and they have a lot to learn, culturally, about owning a dog.

Maybe their government officials should hire some of us to teach them what we know. It could save a lot of heartache for both the pets and owners involved.

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