A cafe in China featuring chow chow dogs painted as panda cubs has prompted widespread criticism over the treatment of the pets.
The Cute Pet Games cafe opened last month in Chengdu in the south-west Sichuan province, home to a large proportion of the endangered bear species, featuring six fluffy chow chows dyed white and black.
A video of the dogs roaming around the cafe has gone viral on Chinese social media. In the video, posted by Chengdu Economic Daily, the owner of the cafe said it was also offering a dyeing service for 1,500 yuan to patrons who wished to give their pets a similar makeover.
Internet users criticised the cafe's treatment of the dogs, which were purchased already dyed, according to the owner. "In the name of loving animals, these pet cafes just want to make money," one said. Another said: "I suggest dyeing the dog owners black and white."
Some pointed to comments by vets that dyeing a dog can damage its skin. "Dogs are dogs. Dyeing them doesn't turn them into pandas, and they are living beings. You ... hurt them just for the sake of what you think looks good."
Others, calling the animals "panda dogs", defended the cafe owner's right to change the pets' appearance. "It's your dog. You get to decide. Very cute," one said.
Following the online response, the cafe said on its Weibo page that it would not continue to offer the dyeing service. "Chengdu is the home of pandas. We wanted to do something different, to differentiate us from other regular dog cafes and pet shops," the owner of the cafe, surnamed Huang, told local media.
In a statement posted on Weibo on Tuesday, the cafe said: "As their owners, their lives are much better than ours. They are also very healthy. Netizens please don't project your thoughts on to us."