- Travel Home
- Travel News
Shanghai, China's most dog-friendly city
How many Shanghai residents stand apart from other Chinese cities by treating their dogs as part of the family
“Shanghai is different from the rest of China,” says Su ShanShan (苏珊珊), a dog-grooming specialist at MeiYu Pet Salon (美育宠物沙龙 ) in Jing'an. “Everywhere else people see dogs for their utility, here they are part of the family.”
This familial connection was on display at a recent Shanghai DogNet meeting at Hua Ting Village, where more than 200 dog owners and their pooches met to socialize, share tips and tricks and have fun in the sun.
The success of these meetings is indicative of the status of dogs in Shanghai.
What started in 2006 as an informal arrangement between a few friends to walk their dogs together has now burgeoned into a monthly meeting of more than 100 owners and their pooches, with organized bus pools, competitions and sponsorship from pet-related companies.
“Dogs are like people,” says group organizer Liu Ye (刘叶). “They get lonely and these meetings let dogs communicate with each other.”
Having a dog also provides an important sense of companionship for their owners, especially in a fast-paced city like Shanghai.
“This is such a big city,” says Shanghai native Xia Qiren (夏其人). “It has more people but less human contact. Having a dog can make you feel less lonely.”
Shanghai is currently home to about 140,000 registered pet dogs, and government officials say the number of unlicensed ones could be as high as 600,000.
(Article continues below photo.)
Xia, 56, runs a small convenience store with her husband, Huang HeSheng (黄和生).
Their four-year old Chihuahua Aini is a regular fixture at the store.
“Some of our customers love dogs and will play with her,” Xia says. “There are also some people who are afraid of dogs, but we don’t worry about that. We won’t give up our dog because some people are afraid.”
This sentiment is typical for Shanghai dog owners who will often go to great lengths to make sure their companion is well cared for.
- More on CNNGo: "Pooch pubs: 5 great Shanghai hangouts for you and your furry friend"
“Shanghai people see dogs as an extension of their personality,” says Su ShanShan. “It’s just like girls who are always changing their hair style. Pet owners want to change their dog’s hair too.”
But not all of Shanghai dogs are as lucky as JojJo, MoMo and Sophie whose routine includes monthly visits to the pet salon. At the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association (SSAPA) around 30 dogs (and 12 cats) are waiting to find an owner who will pamper and protect them.
(Article continues below photo.)
“Its very hard to find new homes for the dogs especially the older and bigger dogs,” says Gong Lei (龚蕾).
The shelter is running at capacity and is struggling to provide high-quality care for their animals in the face of high running costs.
“We need help immediately,” says Gong.
But the Shanghai dog population is lucky to have so many people who are committed owners and careers.
When Gong Lei first read out about the SSAPA two years ago, she went to the shelter the next day to volunteer and was later offered a full-time job.
“I really enjoy working at the shelter,” Gong says. “I get to spend all my time with the animals and that makes me happy.”
For more information about the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association (SSAPA) contact Jane Su at firstname.lastname@example.org or +86 136 2174 6899.
For more information about Shanghai DogNet’s monthly meetings contact Leo Zhan at +86 137 7425 6818 or Chris Zhang at +86 139 1761 4885.