While we will never fully understand why anyone would buy a living creature from a guy with a cage standing on a street corner, apparently it happens… And worse, it apparently happens enough for there to be a term for the pets that you get – “one week-ers”: about how long your brand new puppy will last before it croaks out its final bark.
An investigative reporter at the Jinhua Paper (京华时报) in Beijing went to the markets to uncover what these illegal pet sellers do to create these “one week” dogs. Posing as someone who was willing to sell puppies over the internet, he came across a couple of characters who were specifically in the business of dying dogs into more desirable colors.
According to the pet-purveying street sellers, different colored dogs fetch different prices. A white poodle, for instance, would be priced at around 700RMB, a reddish coat will up that price to 1000RMB, and a “Teddy” sells for even higher – at 1500RMB. So in order to make sure all the dogs are “teddies,” they dye them.
At around 11:10am, Mr. Wei and his wife put on their gloves, which had already been dyed to a purplish color from their natural yellow, and began preparing the toothbrush, dye paste, and a pot of hot water. After, Mr. Wei entered a 10-square-meter room, I could already detect the acrid smell from within.
At 12:30pm, I managed to infiltrate the premises to see what was going on. At that time, Mr. Wei’s wife was working on a white poodle puppy. She used a toothbrush to color the puppy’s face before lowering him into the vat of dye and hot water. Because the water temperature was very high, the little puppy kept screaming. She moved the puppy around to get all its fur wet with dye, blow dried it, and then began smoothing the color out. After the coat was dry, she began the process again. By this point, the puppy had stopped struggling.
If Mr. Wei’s wife saw that the water was getting lighter, she would take out a blag bottle of dye and add more. She said “our place’s chemicals are the best, one dye will last roughly a month.”
Since puppies aren’t made to withstand large doses of chemicals, they are usually very unhealthy by the time they get to market. To perk them up, the sellers said, they feed them cough medicine. Puppies doped up on cough medicine can stay active and playful for about ten hours before they collapse.
While this news report is from Beijing, illegal dog sellers are all over China – including in Shanghai. If you’re thinking of adopting a new pet (or know of anyone who is) make sure you’re going through a reputable seller. Even better, consider giving organizations like SCAA a call.
The worst thing you can do – for yourself or dogkind – is pick up a puppy from some guy selling them off the street.