China animal welfare law under review while 36,000 dogs culled

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Beijing, China
Today the Chinese state media announced that the dog cull in Hanzhong city, Shaanxi Province has reached a death toll of 36,000. Claiming rabies outbreak, the city has sent out dog-beating squads to kill any animal spotted on the street, stray or owned.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) Asia Regional Director, Grace Ge Gabriel, “Mass killing of dogs is ineffective in controlling rabies in the long-term. By choosing not to implement a sensible rabies vaccination program, Hanzhong government has failed to protect the health of its citizens. Furthermore, the brutal killing of dogs continues to highlight the need for legislation that will ensure the humane treatment of all animals.”

Currently, China does not have any type of animal welfare law in place, which means that there is no legal recourse against the cruel treatment and killing of animals.

“The killing of dogs that have rightful owners is a violation of the basic rights of a Chinese citizen,” continues Gabriel. “Although China has no law to prevent cruelty to animals, its Constitution calls for the protection of personal property, which includes rightfully owned companion animals.”  

The cull in Hanzhong began in May after several rabies deaths were reported. IFAW has since pleaded with government officials to stop the slaughter and has offered its expertise in the humane prevention of rabies.

Meanwhile, the central government is working with IFAW and other groups to draft national animal welfare legislation which Gabriel says is the only way to ensure the humane treatment of animals for the long-term.

“Hanzhong county and the national government must stop the mass slaughter of dogs and address the real issues here. The root causes of overpopulation and rabies transmission need to be recognized and addressed,” said Gabriel. “Above all else, this includes the need for vaccination and sterilization.”

“We are of course pleased that the draft of China’s first animal welfare legislation is near completion but it is unfortunately too late for the tens of thousands of dogs in Hanzhong,” concluded Gabriel.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Colleen Cullen (IFAW Headquarters)
Contact phone:
+1 508 648 3586
Contact email: