I learned a painful lesson in differing cultural values: The puppy didn’t survive.

He was such a good dog with so much potential. He was so eager to please, already well on the way to being potty trained. Even when he was obviously in extreme pain, if we took him outside for a moment he used that opportunity to go potty. He had already started to come when called. He didn’t complain about being put in my purse when we took him out to buy a leash and doggie supplies. He was a good good dog and it’s not fair what happened to him.

Outing

But it’s something we have to accept. There’s less compassion for animals than we are used to in the West, and less legal protection for them and their owners.

Apparently the pet shop where Liam got him has a bad reputation for selling sick dogs. We took him to the vet and it turned out Whiskey had Parvo, on top of another disease, and was also anemic. He went from being bright eyed and mischievous as a puppy should be, to lethargic and suffering. He wouldn’t eat, had trouble breathing, and even cried at night.

Here’s the tough lesson: In China, neither consumers nor animals are guaranteed with any rights. This means if someone sells you shoddy merchandise, you can’t go complaining to anyone to force them to give your money back. And it means that if a pet store is profiting from producing as many puppies as possible without any consideration for the health and wellbeing of the animals, there is no agency to call and have them shut down or punished. They can just keep selling as many sick animals as possible and making as much profit as possible. After Liam got the dog, he heard from 4 separate sources that the shop was not to be trusted, so perhaps the only action people can take is to spread the word. I went back and saw the place Whiskey came from and it was definitely shocking to my animal-rights Western sensibilities. I honestly don’t know what Liam was thinking.

The entire pet vending street is atrocious. They have skinny snot covered kittens stuffed in cages, rabbits, mangy looking dogs in tiny crates, even hedgehogs. And they’re stacked in hole-in-the-wall shops with no more consideration than empty vegetable crates. The smell is terrible as is the sound of the crying animals.

Chinese pet market
Chinese pet market
Chinese pet market
Chinese pet market

Anyway, this was a tough lesson in cultural differences I learned. It’s easy to say this is wrong and the way I’m used to is right, but I’m not here to pass judgments like that. It was just a major difference in values that was difficult for me to experience first hand.

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