The big questions before you adopt
What’s your plan?
A pet isn’t just for Shanghai, it’s for life. One problem shelters face is rehoming adolescent and adult pets left behind when people leave China, ‘Everybody wants kittens or puppies – not senior animals,’ explains Vasquez. Which is why one of the most important questions any potential pet-adopters need to ask themselves is: Can I commit long term?
While doable in most cases, leaving China with your pet can be complicated and requires a fair amount of pre-planning – rules and regulations can vary vastly depending on the animal and your destination country’s pet importation laws. For example, Vasquez advises, if you’re heading for the Americas it’s relatively simple and you can start planning a month in advance, whereas if you’re headed for the European Union (especially the UK), the process is much more stringent, more costly, and will need at least four months planning. And then there are countries that don’t allow pets to be imported directly from China at all, like Australia and New Zealand.
What animal is right for you?
One factor to consider is how your pet will fit into your lifestyle. It’s a no-brainer that any animal you take into your home is going to need a hefty amount of TLC, but, of course, some need more attention than others.
Saw explains that when it comes to dogs, ‘Everybody wants a puppy, but they require a lot of attention, training, and they’re very energetic – they need to be walked three to four times a day.’ Families with tighter schedules might be better off with an adolescent or adult dog with less energy and relatively fewer needs than a pup. ‘It also varies by breed,’ Saw continues. ‘Certain dogs like Labradors and Border Collies really need to run a lot.’
Another important factor is your new pet’s temperament – it should be personality over looks every time for a better long-term match. Try to go to adoption days or shelters as a family to see who you all bond with.
What’s the deal with your landlord?
Unless you own your own place, it’s important to ask you landlord or building management whether pets are allowed before you adopt to avoid potential issues later down the line.