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If I think an animal is being mistreated in China, what can I do?

Illustrative photo by hanna k

Aside from a law designed to protect rare and endangered species, there are no laws in China that have been explicitly created to protect animals from cruelty, mistreatment and abuse. As a consequence it is more difficult to intervene in cases of animal abuse in China than in some other countries. Still, there are some methods that you can try.

Firstly, if you see an animal being hit or abused in the street, or your neighbor is abusing their pets, you could attempt to calm them down, and either reason with them or threaten to call the police. Sometimes, the threat of bringing in the authorities will be enough to make them stop for a while. Sometimes the sight of a police officer coming to admonish them will have an even greater effect. However, as mentioned above there are no laws against animal abuse, so the police are limited in what they can do in such a situation. Some police may actually decline to come out to such calls, as they feel their efforts can be better spent elsewhere.
Though there are no laws as of yet, there are numerous animal protection organizations that actively protect animals from harm. You can report the abuse to one of these organizations and they may intervene. The biggest is the China Small Animal Protection Association, which has local branches in many cities. Unfortunately, these organizations don’t have legal teeth to punish the abusers.

Another alternative is to photograph or film the abuse and report the incidents on social media, or through local media. Such items have been known to outrage netizens, who may (for example) boycott the abuser’s store. This may create enough pressure for the abuser to back down, but again there is no legal reason for the individuals to curb their behavior. Of course, the internet is an unpredictable tool as far as people are concerned, and there is always the risk of things getting out of hand, so we would always stress caution before pursuing such methods.


Useful Chinese words and phrases 

虐待动物 nuèdài dòngwù Animal abuse
宠物 chǒngwù Pet
野生动物 yěshēng dòngwù Wild animal/ Wildlife
动物保护 dòngwù bǎohù Animal protection


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