KUALA LUMPUR - The Associated Press
Every dog has its day, and many will have theirs in the coming Year of the Dog as Malaysian Chinese snatch up good luck puppies from pet stores.
The ethnic Chinese minority of this Southeast Asian country are rushing to buy puppies as mascots for the Year of the Dog, which begins on Jan. 29, the Star newspaper reported.
However, animal welfare activists fear that owners will dump their new pets by next year, swelling the ranks of the hundreds of canines abandoned each month in Malaysia's largest city.
The Star quoted Jennifer Ong, a pet shop owner, as saying that she has sold 46 puppies in the last two weeks. Many customers also are buying colorful cheongsams, the tight-fitting Chinese women's dress, for their canine pals.
She said people generally do not buy dogs ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays but this year, "the sale of dogs are completely beyond our expectations."
"This has never happened before," she was quoted as saying. "I have never sold that many dogs in a span of 16 days."
Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and the dark blue tongued Chou Chou were the top favorites, she said.
However, Christine Chin, the head of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Malaysia, urged potential buyers not to be too hasty.
"One year down the road, owners may lose interest in dogs," Chin told The Associated Press. "We already receive 200 abandoned dogs and 250 puppies per month (in Kuala Lumpur). It's like a tsunami, and for every 10 animals that come in, only one will find a new home."
Chin said the SPCA -- which has not reported any marked increase in dog adoptions -- is planning special campaigns for the Year of the Dog, with possible slogans such as "owning a dog should be for its entire life, not just for a year."
According to "feng shui," the Chinese belief of improving fortunes by the layout of objects, dogs are believed to be able to ward off evil and bad luck for owners.
Chinese form about 25 percent of the population in Malaysia whose majority Malay Muslims largely avoid dogs because of the perception in Islam that the animals are unclean.