I recently discovered the joys of being a mother to an endearing Terrier mix named Rivers. It can be hard to resist a large set of puppy-dog eyes but before you head out to find your own ball of fur, remember to do a little research.
When choosing a dog it’s important to consider the basics: temperament, size, exercise requirements, as well as health concerns that can be specific to some breeds. Though you can buy a puppy from one of Beijing’s many pet shops and markets, I recommend adopting from a trusted shelter. Despite the obvious benefit of saving a furry friend from life on the street, dogs from shelters have already had their health checks and vaccinations.
If you’re considering adoption, contact the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) or the Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Center (BHAEEC). Founded and owned by Zhang Luping, BHAEEC is a privately owned and privately funded center for over 600 dogs and 150 cats. Adoption at BHAEEC will set you back a mere RMB 500, which covers the cost of board and vaccinations. If you’re not quite ready for a full-time commitment, BHAEEC welcomes weekend volunteers; alternatively, you can sponsor an animal for a monthly fee.
If you stumble across a stray dog and it’s love at first sight, be sure to quarantine it from other animals until you visit the vet for a full checkup. Remember, Chinese law requires all dogs to have an annual rabies vaccination and getting a distemper vaccination for your dog is also strongly encouraged.
In Beijing, the law requires you to register your dog. If you are caught without registration (an ID card for your dog that includes the dog’s photo and owner’s contact information), you face an RMB 2,000 fine in addition to the initial registration fee. Registration can differ between districts, so it is best to visit your local police station to find out how to go about it. The registration period is from May 1 until early July and dog registrations expire on May 1 each year. For your initial visit, it’s recommended that you bring your dog, two passport-size photos of your dog (front head shot), your ID (passport and residency permit), your lease agreement or property title document, permission from your neighborhood watch committee (ju wei hui 居委会), and cash. The initial registration fee within Beijing’s eight major districts (Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen, Xuanwu, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, Shijingshan) is RMB 1,000 and annual registration renewal is RMB 500 for each following year. These fees may change outside the Fifth Ring Road, so owners should contact their local PSB for details.
If you have your heart set on a golden retriever and you live within the Fifth Ring Road, prepare yourself for some disappointment. All dogs within the Fifth Ring must be below 35cm (shoulder to floor). That said, your local PSB has the final say on approving the size of your dog and dogs over 50cm have been known to pass height requirements in the past.
If you register your new pup after they’ve been neutered or spayed at a registered and licensed animal hospital in Beijing, you may receive a 50 percent discount on the initial registration fee (providing you have the paperwork to prove it). For a rabies vaccination discount, bring the dog registration receipt and dog license to a legally registered and licensed animal hospital in Beijing.
Beijing boasts over 120 veterinary hospitals, but owners should choose their hospital wisely as not all of them adhere to Beijing’s tough standards. Look for a large gold plaque with red characters on it – this is the official seal of approval from the government that a vet is registered and can provide rabies vaccinations. Remember, only Chinese veterinarians are licensed to practice in Beijing and administer shots. If you want to relocate within China or leave the country with your dog, you need immunization certificates (a red booklet that contains information about the dog’s vaccinations) from an official animal hospital. Best to find a good hospital and stick with it, as it will be easier to sort out the paperwork when the time comes to relocate.
International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) is the only legally registered full-service, fully owned foreign animal hospital in northern China. The international staff speaks both English and Mandarin. ICVS also has boarding and day care services, as well as grooming, obedience training and a well-stocked pet store.
I recommend Cool Pets Store as a one-stop pet store. Cool Pets has 25 locations in Beijing and is a great place to purchase dog food, toys, bedding, even organic pet shampoo (RMB 70). If you’re in the habit of spoiling your pooch, a RMB 50 membership card will get you coupons and 15 percent off select purchases.
ICVS pet store stock includes, among its many must-haves, premium dog food including imported Eukanuba and airline-approved animal crates (medium-size RMB 550).
Dogs are not allowed in public parks, so take Fido out to frolic in the 60,000sqm Coolbaby Dog Theme Park. Located in Chaoyang Park, this doggie paradise was opened in 2006 and is the biggest park of its kind in Beijing. Coolbaby Park features a playground and an obstacle course of hoops, ramps and tunnels, as well as overnight boarding. When you need a refuel, check out their on-site snack stores. RMB 10 gets you and your pup entry and a handy poop bag.
In Wangjing, just south of IKEA and Beijing’s U-Speed Go Kart on Jingshun Road, there is a huge dog park with plenty of grass, trees and paved paths. This public dog park is a great place for your furry friend to run free and play with other dogs. The best part is – it’s free.
Traveling With your Dog
Dogs are not permitted on public transport; however most taxis are happy to drive you and your pooch around provided your pet is in a small crate or travel bag. Avoid flying within China if possible, as air travel with your pup is a difficult and complicated process that should only be undertaken by the brave of heart.
If you choose to board your dog, check the kennel facilities and make sure they require all their animals to be fully vaccinated for rabies and distemper. A kennel cough vaccination for dogs is not required in China. I highly recommend boarding your dog at ICVS, because their facilities are clean and the English-speaking staff is friendly and accommodating.
K. K. Animal Hospital in Shunyi has an animal hospital, pet store and a 6,000sqm kennel with a lush field for your dog to run around in. Perks include outdoor activities, free pick-up and delivery of your pet and a bath once a week (for boarding periods of one week or more).
Taking care of a dog can be hard work, but the rewards are priceless. No matter what, Rivers greets me at the door every day, tail wagging and all smiles, just for returning home.
Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Center (北京人与动物环保科普中心 )
Call Michelle Bruce 139 1022 8132 for an appointment. www.animalschina.org
International Center for Veterinary Services
Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm. Kent Center, 29 Liangmaqiao Lu, Anjia Lou, Chaoyang District (In the same courtyard as Chinese Culture Center) (8456 1939/1940/194) www.icvsasia.com 朝阳区安家楼亮马桥路29号 (肯特中心院内)
K. K. Animal Hospital (康康宠物医院)
Daily 9am-7pm. 801-802 Pinnacle Plaza, Shunyi District (8046 2358 ) www.kkanimal.com 顺义区荣祥广场801-802
Coolbaby Pet Stores (酷迪宠用品)
Daily 10am-8pm. Rm 6, Bldg 14, Dongzhimennei Dajie, Dongcheng District (8407 4198) www.kudipets.com 东城区东直门内大街14号楼6号
Coolbaby Dog Theme Park (酷迪宠物超市)
Daily 8am-6pm (winter); 8am-8pm (summer) 7 east gate of Chaoyang Park, 1 Chaoyang Nanlu, Chaoyang District (6500 3590) www.kdpark.com 朝阳区朝阳公园7号东门朝阳南路1号
Wangjing Dog Park
Jingshun Lu (just south of U-Speed Go Kart)