China dog cull looms, owners urged to kill pets

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
(Beijing, China –9 September 2009) Media reports from China indicate another citywide dog cull will begin Thursday in a district of Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province near Beijing. Dogs that are not registered and vaccinated will reportedly be killed, along with stray animals.

Residents with dogs over one foot in height or with those which are considered to be “dangerous breeds” are being asked to kill their own dogs by September 10th. If these animals are not killed, police will then form dog-beating squads, combing the district and killing all such dogs. Owners will then be fined for the killing.

While authorities are attributing the plan to recent dog-biting incidents in the area, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) Asia Regional Director, Grace Ge Gabriel rebuts, “To pick this time to enforce the dog regulation, it is obvious that Qinhuangdao hopes to “clean” the streets and put on a good show for China’s National Day on October 1st. But, by inflicting cruelty on animals, the city is doing the exact opposite. Mass killing of dogs is going to generate outrage from people all over the world, damaging China’s image of a harmonious society.  

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,” says 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.”

Due to the lack of rabies prevention programs, consistent dog population controls or responsible pet ownership education, city governments often resort to mass killing of dogs as a means to control dog populations and prevent rabies outbreaks. This May, the cull in Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province was responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 dogs. “This brutal killing of dogs further highlights the need for legislation that will ensure the humane treatment of all animals,” continues Gabriel.

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

“Qinhuangdao must stop the mass slaughter of dogs and attend to the root causes of overpopulation and rabies transmission. 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 we fear it will be too late for the tens of thousands of dogs in Qinhuangdao,” concluded Gabriel.

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