My Shanghai, an Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us about their life.
A native of Singapore, Jane Saw had finished a stint in Los Angeles before arriving in Shanghai a decade ago. Full-time jobs aside, she had always participated in animal rescue initiatives. In 2012, time was ripe for Jane to start her pet-adoption NGO, and hence Best Friends China was launched.
Since she founded Best Friends China (BFC), an estimated 1,000 animals have been rescued and rehomed thanks to BFC volunteers. The adoption process relies heavily on the organization’s online platform where volunteers, rescuers and adopters can communicate directly. With the recent launch of a new mini program, it is evident that Jane and her team are taking small steps to raise awareness of animal wellbeing and normalize adoption within the Shanghai community.
Image via Best Friends China
You founded Best Friends China back in 2012, what was the inspiration?
I started Best Friends China in 2012 because I wanted to transfer the concept of animal shelter from Singapore and LA to Shanghai. Many people who want to help, so I established an online platform where rescuers can go to our website and advertise animals that need assistance.
Are you a pet owner yourself?
Yes, I have six pets: two dogs and four cats. Some neighbors are not happy with it, so I have to deal with them first before I can talk about the bigger picture [Laughs].
Can you share one of your favorite adoption stories with us?
Sure. Patchy is a dog we rescued back in 2014. He was lodging in a residential building one night, when one of the residents filed a complaint with the police, saying she was afraid to go out of her house. After witnessing how well-tempered Patchy was, the policemen released a notice on Weibo asking for a member of the public to adopt him. That’s when the BFC volunteers went in and claimed him.
Images via Best Friends China
What are some of the main challenges for animal rescuers in Shanghai?
How you change people’s attitude towards abandoned animals - I think that’s the most challenging aspect. I think people still prefer breed dogs – this is not unique to Shanghai. If you’ve never had a pet before, of course, you would want a beautiful one. It’s understandable, however I would like more people to consider adoption before they purchase an expensive breed dog. It’s a different feeling when you pick up an abandoned animal and give it a new home.
Image via Jane Saw/Best Friends China
Tell us about the community and volunteers you are working with at BFC?
There’s a large group of ayis who dedicate their retired life to helping the animals - they’re the main rescuers who have many pets under their care. For example, Qian-ayi has two shelters in Fengxian that function as foster homes for approximately 100 stray dogs. As admirable as this is, we want to encourage more people to join the rescue; to do so rationally and within a reasonable capacity. Instead of putting all animals under one person’s care, it is better for 100 people to rescue 100 animals.
You recently launched a new WeChat mini program. Can you tell us how this works?
We transferred our ‘rescue-to-rehome’ website platform to a WeChat mini program. Rescuers can use the program to upload pages for rescued dogs and cats, and talk to potential adopters about logistics, arrange handovers and share their advice.
Image via Best Friends China
How can our Urban Family readers keep up with your events and updates?
Right now, we're looking for volunteers to help out with future adoption events. Detailed information will be published on our website and WeChat account, so keep an eye out!
Scan the QR codes for Best Friends China’s official WeChat account and mini program.
For more My Shanghai series, click here.
[Cover image via Jane Saw/Best Friends China]