How to Adopt a Pet in Shanghai

Shanghai Living

The following is our guide to adopting a pet in Shanghai. For more info on animal rescue and adoption groups, please scroll to the bottom and check the comments — and if you have more helpful info, please comment!

Between reports of pet-napping, tainted pet food, food tainted with pets, and alien regulations, Shanghai can be a daunting place to own a furry friend. And there’s another issue: the enormous amount of stray cats and dogs roaming the streets without a good permanent home.

Fortunately, we’ve provided the skinny on pet adoption in Shanghai that can hopefully help you find your best four-legged friend.

Finding a pet at a Shanghai adoption agency is one of the best routes for pet ownership. The trustworthy Second Chance Animal Aid (SCAA) is a non-profit organization that runs entirely on donations and rescues stray and abused animals to improve their health and quality of life. SCAA even allows temporary fostering so potential owners can grow familiar with the animals they’d be adopting.

Unlike many agencies, SCAA’s animals have undergone thorough examinations and vaccinationsand been deemed healthy by veterinarians. To prevent repeating the cycle of abuse or having the animal undergo further neglect, these potential pets are only paired with well-rounded families.

“Mandatory” Donations?

Unfortunately, as of yet, no animal rescue group operating in Shanghai has a government-issued license allowing them to receive donations and provide fapiao. All Shanghai groups operate informally, i.e. holding fundraiser events and selling goods.

This means that certain groups feel entitled to donations, and even demand them. According to Alejandra Vasquez of Paw Pals Animal Rescue (PPAR), “If you want to donate you can do so, but no animal rescue group can force you to.”


When looking for a rescue pet, make sure the animals harbor no illnesses, and have begun vaccinations — at 8 then 12 weeks for puppies and kittens; puppies require a third round of vaccines at 16 weeks of age. Pets over 8 months old should be sterilized. You’ll also want to ensure that the center is providing an honest assessment of the pet, which can be done by requiring the rescue group to submit its medical record.

On your part, have reasonable expectations about your animal’s behavior. According to Lee-Anne Armstrong of SCAA, “pets should be social, but dogs aren’t babies and cats aren’t dogs.”

Says SCAA’s Lee-Anne Armstrong, “Choose medical care for your pet with the same level of scrutiny as you’d choose it for any family member. SCAA recommends vet clinics with both local and foreign consultants who have the same status as doctors in their home countries.” PAW (Pets Are Wonderful), Doctors Beck & Stone, and St. Anthony Animal Recovery Hospital offer quality vet care.

Safety and Responsibility

Responsible pet ownership entails licensing, leashing, providing proper veterinary care, ensuring proper diet and exercise and outfitting your home to meet your pet’s needs. And while it may seem like an afterthought in a city where kids defecate in the street, pick up the poop! No one wants to navigate a dog-doody minefield on their way to work.

Also, in China, some people are afraid of dogs while others will excitedly approach your pet without asking permission. Ensuring that your dog has safe interactions with strangers is essential. Use your apartment’s freight elevator rather than the regular lift when with your pooch. People might not like having Fluffy sniffing them for 20 floors.

With half-naked kids on leashes and dogs that roam free in sweaters and shoes, Shanghai often feels like the Twilight Zone. Nonetheless, walk dogs on a leash. Incidents of leash-less pooches wandering off and getting lost or hit by a car happen all the time, as do dog-nappings for fur and meat.

The latter also applies to cats, which are often distributed under the guise of rabbit. SCAA has even received complaints of traps in fancy Pudong compounds. Prevent your dog from being turned into “Chow Chow Mein” by instructing family members and Ayis to leave windows and doors closed. Andalways have your dog license when walking it.

Pet Laws to Know

Shanghai law requires that all dogs be registered and micro-chipped; it’s a three-step process. No registration nor chipping is required for cats.

How to Register Your Dog 

Bring your:

  1. Pet
  2. Proof of sterilization
  3. ID and address

 — to a clinic that’s approved to vaccinate and microchip dogs for licensing. SCAA recommends the government-affiliated Shenpu Pet Hospital. The next step is getting a microchip and rabies vaccination (under RMB500). Shenpu provides a passport book and immunization card, will take your dog’s photo and will enter your pet’s information into their database.

Once these steps are completed, you must then head to your local district police station for a dog license. Bring the:

  1. Shenpu Pet Hospital documents
  2. Your passport (copy the photo page and visa)
  3. A copy of your lease

Processing usually takes three to four weeks.

Other Laws to Know

Along with the aforementioned licensing and vaccinations, laws include leashing dogs outdoors, and picking up poop — though the latter is enforced as much as “no smoking” regulations. Shanghai bans certain breeds and permits only one dog per household — i.e. the “One Pet Policy.” Consult your local police station for breed and size restrictions.

Shanghai Sculpture Park

Dogs are banned from Shanghai’s public parks. But Ding Ding Pet Park in Songjiang offers 2,000 square meters of fenced-in area for your rescued pooch to run, as well as multiple activities, training facilities and ample equipment for a RMB20 entrance fee. A more centralized pet-friendly location are the fields beside the Shanghai Sculpture Park, though remember to bring your dog license and certificate.

Help Your Ayi Feel Comfortable

For dog owners, Ayi plays a significant role. Make sure this role is positive by introducing your Ayi to your dog gradually, supervising initial interaction and consistently training your dog for good behavior. Don’t force the relationship. Says SCAA’s Lee-Anne Armstrong, “Finding a good dog and Ayi match is not about appeasing a pampered pet. Your dog’s comfort and safety is in everyone’s best interest.”

Training Your Dog

Training can often make the relationship between pet and owner more fulfilling. And contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog — even a rescued dog — new tricks.

Arguably the best training center in Shanghai is BuddyDog, a 5,000 square-meter compound in Pudong with an English-speaking staff and multiple play and relaxation areas.

Animal Hospitals

For pet hospitals, your best bet is Doctors Beck & Stone, China’s first international pet hospital, which has branches in Minhang, Jinqiao and Changning, and offers consultations in English, French and Russian along with Mandarin.

Services include ambulances, vaccinations, grooming and boarding. Also reliable are the Shenpu Pet Clinic, Jing An’s Dog & Cat Hospital, and ELYES. All of the above offer 24-hour care.

Dog & Cat Food

The recent mass poisoning of U.S. pets by Chinese chow proves that Chinese food safety issues affect animals as well as people. Avoid purchasing local pet food (especially online stuff), and buy USDA/FDA-approved imports. Unfortunately, like everything, this is counterfeited regularly. Choosing a reliable supplier is key.

Paws’n Us in Jing’an sells 80% imported products. Says owner Mike Liu, “We have a registered company in America. We import pet food from the U.S., Canada and other countries. All the products I get myself by going to the source directly.” Recommended brands include First Mate from Canada and U.S.-based Treat Planet.

Grooming Your Pet

Grooming your rescued pet will not only make them look good, it can keep them healthy and clean.

Three places stick out: PAW (Pets Are Wonderful), Doctors Beck & Stone and BARK, the first pet shop in Shanghai offering in-house grooming.


Dog-walking services aren’t established in China like in the West, meaning most walkers are freelancers. The problem with this is that if your dog gets lost or stolen, you can’t receive compensation from/go after the company because there is no “company.” It boils down to trust. One of the more reputable walking services, according to PPAR’s Alejandra Vasques, is Pet in Shanghai.

Pet Boarders, Kennels and Catteries

Living in Shanghai gives expats a jumping off point to tour China and visit destinations throughout Asia. But when traveling, what do you do with your dog or cat?

Top spots include Kennel Paradise Pet Center in Songjiang, Paws’n Us, and Lovely Lovely Paws Lakeside Pet Resort, a spacious Balinese-style countryside house run by two dog-lovers. At the latter, your pets are guaranteed ample exercise, as well as meals, snacks and a shower. All the aforementioned will WeChat pet status updates, and there are even Smartphone apps that allow you to monitor your pets via video.

Moving Back With Your Pet

Now, if you’re heading home, it’s a whole different ball game. The process of repatriating with your pet can get complicated.

First, it depends who’s taking the pet where. For example, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Taiwanese nationals aren’t allowed to take Chinese pets home. Transporting pets to the Americas can be fairly cheap, while it can be RMB3,000 for the European Union, and nearly RMB30,000 for the U.K.

Depending on the destination, pets take 30 days to six months preparation to leave China. The pet must first receive the aforementioned microchip and rabies shot, then wait at least 30 days and not more than 12 months from this date to move. Seven days before departure, owners must take their pet to the Shenpu Pet Hospital seven days before departure for a health check and to pay for the export certificate.

Certain countries require rabies titre testing, which can be done 30 days after the Shenpu clinic visit. Afterwards, expect a very long wait. Pets may be prepared for export years in advance because all export preparations remain valid forever if the rabies vaccination is maintained within one year of the first injection.

Pets on the Plane

Concerning transportation, some airlines are more accommodating than others. Air France, Scandinavian Airlines, Royal Dutch Airlines and Lufthansa are “pet friendly,” and aside from the U.K. and United Arab Emirates, few places require pets to fly as cargo — the most expensive option, which requires customs clearance.

A cheaper alternative is “excess baggage transport” a.k.a. flying below the cabin but not in the cargo hold. Make sure you secure the pet crates with zip ties and provide food and water. However, don’t sedate pets for international travel in order to avoid adverse reactions mid-flight.


Quarantine rules vary. North America and Europe have scrapped them while Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong impose quarantines on PRC pets of one week, one month and four months, respectively.

Rule of paw: Do all pet exportation research ASAP to avoid unpleasant surprises!

4 Pet Adoption Organizations in Shanghai

If you’re considering pet adoption, start your search with these organizations:


SCAA (Second Chance Animal Aid) is a non-profit organization that runs entirely on donations and rescues stray and abused animals to improve their health and quality of life. It also allows you to foster pets so potential buyers can grow familiar with the animals they’d be purchasing. All animals undergo thorough evaluations by veterinarians, and are only paired with well-rounded families.


Founded in 2007, Paw Pals Animal Rescue (PPAR) is nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing animals and providing them a comfortable living environment. To this date, PPAR has rescued more than 300 homeless kittens and cats, and successfully placed most of them in loving homes. All cats at PPAR are sterilized, immunized and treated for parasites prior to adoption.


Launched in 2009, Jaiya’s Animal Rescue (JAR) is a group of both expats and local Chinese which promotes adopting and fostering abandoned pets in Shanghai. So far, the organization has rehomed more than 1000 animals, 297 in 2013 alone. Unfortunately, JAR is at capacity and therefore unable to shelter any more rescues.


Think Adoption is a not-for-profit organization founded by French “Animal Dad” Philippe Jeangeorges and Chris Lau. It promotes adopting rather than buying animals, and has been involved in rescuing stray cats and dogs clandestine rings that sell them for meat and fur.

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