In 2010, the Year of the Tiger, a series of pictures showing orange puppies with black stripes caused controversy in China after they were posted online. Hoping to make a profit off them, some vendors had started selling striped dogs under the false pretense that they were a new breed. At the time, everybody questioned the authenticity of those photos, not knowing if they were photoshopped, if the puppies where genetically altered or simply painted, but now everyone knows the truth. These are “one week puppies” a name that hints at their short life expectancy due to the toxicity of the varnish they are painted with. Believe it or not, they are still very popular in China.
It seems making your canine companion look like other animals using toxic varnish has become very popular in China. Pandas and tigers are especially sought after and dogs resembling these animals have been showing up in every city. “I have seen this kind of dog more than once in China, once in ZhuHai last fall and then in the city of Guangzhou. Both times the dogs were for sale from a street vendor, they were not all the same color, but they were all striped. The only thing I can think is that the stripes are spray painted on,” a woman wrote on a forum. The coloring process used in the case of the “Bengal dogs” (tiger-skinned dogs) must have required some powerful chemicals as the people curious enough to buy a striped individual reported that the dog was very ill. “I recently bought one of these dogs in Beijing China,” another person wrote . “I got it home and it was very dehydrated. I took it to the vet today and they confirmed that its hair had been dyed. It is a black dog, that gets to be about medium size. They dye the orange part, that’s why the orange is never around the eyes, or nose, and the stripes are so uniform. The vet stated that the dye would wear off in about 2 months, and that the dog would be healthy unless we continued to dye the dog,” he detailed.
According to animal welfare activist Xiong Ting, cited by Central European News, “the dogs try to lick off the varnish, and then they get the chemicals inside them, after that death is not long away. Sadly, many people believed the claim that the dogs were rarities and were happy to pay making sure that the sick trade continued.” Chinese health officials have slapped a public health warning on these so-called “one week puppies”, stating that the powerful varnish is very toxic and could prove lethal for children who played with them. Unfortunately painting pets is not new in Asia. Two years ago we wrote about the dyed chicks sold by street vendors in China and India.
As adorable as these puppies may seem, we can only hope those people will be stopped from harming them any further and eventually brought to justice.