The city's first pet adoption center opened last Sunday in the corner of a shabby flower and bird market, but some strict conditions the operators have set up for the sake of the animals are keeping many potential adopters away.
The center is operated by the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association, a non-governmental local organization run by volunteers who share a common interest in protecting stray and abandoned animals. Due to its tight budget, the Caring Heart Adoption Store is located in a small rented shop, about 7 square meters in size, in the corner of the Xinshigang Flower and Bird Market on Kaixuan Road.
The center is currently home to nine scruffy residents, five dogs and four cats that were selected from the animals rescued by SSAPA. They are all in good health except for one dog who lost an eye.
The association has nursed many of the animals back to health, and it wants to ensure anyone who adopts the cats or dogs will take proper care of them in the future.
With that in mind, the agency has created a set of terms one must agree to before taking one of the pets home. Adopters must agree to have their new pet sterilized and ensure it gets all of the recommended vaccinations. Sterilization operations generally cost between 100 yuan (US$12) and 200 yuan.
Anyone adopting a dog, must agree to apply for a license, which costs from 1,000 yuan to 2,000 yuan a year.
The association will ensure adopters live up to all of the adoption terms. They will also visit the new pet owners at home on a regular basis to check up on the animals' living conditions.
While there is no price for adopting a pet, the terms are too strict for many people who visit the center, as most local pet owners don't believe in sterilizing their pets, and many aren't willing to pay for a dog license.
To date, only one cat had been adopted by yesterday afternoon, and few visitors to the center had shown any real interest in taking home a four-legged friend, according to vet Wang Quanyong, who works next door and volunteers at the center.
The association says it stands behind the adoption terms and will not lower criteria just to attract more adopters. It says sterilization will improve the animals' quality of life as well as controlling the number of strays on city streets.