Staying in Shanghai over Spring Festival? Why not foster a pet!
As foreigners living in Shanghai, our lives are often unpredictable and a bit unstable, and we often never know from year to year whether we will be staying on or packing up and heading somewhere new.
This makes it hard to dive into commitments, among them the joy of pet ownership. But you don’t have to miss out altogether, thanks to organizations such as Second Chance Animal Aid Shanghai, who are devoted to saving and finding new homes for some of the animals in Shanghai who need a bit of love. This week I spoke with Canadian Lee-Anne Armstrong who is doing her best to help our cute, four-legged friends. She needs your help if you’re staying in Shanghai this Spring Festival.
Q: Why would you recommend fostering?
Fostering is temporary commitment and a great way to enjoy the companionship of a cat and/or dog while SCAA gets the animals healthy and ready for a permanent home.
Fostering is ideal for animal lovers who aren’t able to adopt or are unsure of taking the plunge. It’s also a nice compromise for current pet owners who don’t want to adopt another cat or dog, but whose pet would enjoy animal companionship.
Q: Where do the animals you need fostered come from?
SCAA’s foster animals can be social strays or abandoned pets that we see are in need of help. There’s a lot of need, and we can only take animals into care on a case-by-case basis, depending on fostering and financial resources available.
Q: What’s your position with SCAA Shanghai and how did you get involved?
I’m the organization’s executive director. From my first week in Shanghai I spotted stray, lost, and abandoned animals. I learned about SCAA in a 2005 English language magazine feature and I got more and more involved over the years. I was initially, and naively, surprised by how many other animal lovers were in the same situation, and being part of an organized community is helpful.
Q: Are you personally based in Shanghai?
I’ve been in Shanghai for over 14 years. For several years I balanced full time work with a volunteer role in SCAA. When I realized I couldn’t keep up with the demands of what ended up being two full-time commitments, I had to choose what to focus on. I resigned from my job to run the organization full time.
Q: Why are you in need of foster parents before the Spring Festival?
Spring Festival is a busy travel time for everyone, including foster parents. Many foster animals, especially cats, need temporary homes. For anyone interested in longer-term fostering but away this holiday, we definitely need volunteers for current fosters and to help us take on new rescues.
Q: What if someone falls in love with their foster? Is there a path to adoption?
All animal lovers ready to make a permanent commitment to a pet are welcome to adopt, and foster parents sometimes decide they don’t want to part with a foster. We call this a “fostering fail.” Many former foster animals are happily living overseas with volunteers who decided they wanted to adopt them during their time helping us in Shanghai.
Q: Why are cats and dogs usually abandoned in Shanghai?
Pets are abandoned when people don’t put enough thought into what it means to raise an animal before bringing one home. It’s important to first understand a pet’s daily care and long-term needs and decide if you’re willing to bring them into your home as a permanent family member. Pets are very rewarding, but they require a dedicated investment of your time and money.
Q: In your eyes, what’s the biggest problem or issue facing cats and dogs in Shanghai today?
In Shanghai, and China generally, a lack of animal protection laws to deal with abuse, cruelty, and abandonment makes these problems worse. The unregulated breeding and sale of cats and dogs is also a big problem. A tragically high number of deliberately bred puppies and kittens, as well as unwanted litters from pets and strays, suffer from deadly viruses that could be controlled with preventative care, breeding restrictions, and spaying pets.
Q: Can people help in other ways if they can’t foster?
Animal lovers who can’t adopt or foster because of their schedule or housing restrictions can still support rescues. We hold regular fundraising initiatives and events that help rescue cases. When it comes to improving welfare, animal advocates in the city have to rely on DIY efforts. Any support is appreciated.
If you want to foster a friend, or help SCAA Shanghai in some other way, you can scan the QR code or visit their website for full details: www.scaashanghai.org.