A Chinese man has sued a Beijing animal hospital over the death of his dog during plastic surgery. Chinese animal welfare advocates have been appalled at the surgery, a facelift that was performed specifcally to meet “the aesthetic desire” of the man, as Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Association, says to the Global Times.
Mr. Yu (as the media are referring to him) owns a Beijing dog farm. He wanted the dog to have a “facelift” to improve his appearance and thereby increase profits, as he says in the Global Times: ”The skin of my dog’s head was very flabby, so I wanted to cut part of his forehead and straighten the skin….. If my dog looks better, female dog owners will pay a higher price when they want to mate their dog with mine.”
Yu is demanding 880,000 yuan ($141,240) in compensation for the dog’s death; he claims that he bought the dog, a Tibetan Mastiff, from another owner for that price in March of 2012. He had previously had other dogs undergo surgery to make their ears more erect. The Global Times says that Yu owns 30 dogs and has been breeding them with dogs from other farms for fifteen years, for a price of 30,000 to 300,000 yuan. He also keeps female dogs whose puppies can sell from several thousand yuan to several million yuan.
The Tibetan Mastiff has become a canine status symbol for China’s nouveaux riche. One sold for 20 million yuan last year; a coal magnate in northern China bought a mastiff, Hong Dong for 10 million yuan in 2011. “If you are rich, you can easily buy a big house or a Lamborghini. But owning a pure-bred mastiff is quite another thing. It’s solid evidence of your wealth, power and taste,” millionaire dog breeder Li Yongfu is quoted as saying in the Telegraph.
Not only have Chinese animal welfare advocates expressed outrage at the use of plastic surgery to make the deceased mastiff look “better” according to the eyes of Yu. It is presumptuous for us to think that what humans consider “attractive” is the same as what animals do.
Advocates also point out that it is abusive for Tibetan mastiffs, which are native to the grassland plateaus of Central Asia and were originally bred as guard dogs, to be raised in lowland cities including Beijing and in urban areas, period.
In the Global Times, Zhang Mingming, who owns two cats, shuddered at the use of plastic surgery on a pet as such treats him or her “like a toy instead of a living being.” As Care2 blogger Judy Molland writes about the current rage for dog tattoos in the U.K.
Isn’t tattooing, or any other kind of adorning, taking away your pet’s dignity? How would humans like it if they had to submit to such embellishments against their will?
In the case of the deceased mastiff, the facelift was intended for the profit of the dog’s owner, in blatant disregard for the “rights and interests of the dog,” says Qin of the Capital Animal Association. It is horrendous that Yu is still seeking to make money from the now deceased dog who more than deserves to be left in peace.