China Spotlight: City Residents Claim Victory in Saving their Dogs

A supporter nearly shouts over the phone receiver, ”All Jiangmen city dogs will be culled. Please help”! Appeals for help from animal loving people in Jiangment City, China are pouring into the International Fund for Animal Welfare office in Bejing.

A supporter nearly shouts over the phone receiver, ”All Jiangmen city dogs will be culled. Please help”!

Appeals for help from animal loving people in Jiangment City, China are pouring into the International Fund for Animal Welfare office in Bejing.

An online notice posted July 29th, in Jiangmen city in Guangdong province announced that in the next three weeks the local officials intended to:

  • Ban dogs in three districts of Jiangmen, only people with high priced property can apply to get an exemption to keep dogs as guard dogs
  • Ban dogs from public places and roads, owners should get rid of their dogs by relinquishing them to the agricultural bureau by August 10th
  • Confiscate and destroy all dogs that are in the three districts starting August 26th

The reason for the notice is to prevent rabies for human health and safety and to establish a civilized city.

Orders for dog culls like this one are not new to our office. We come across these types of mass culls several times a year. Often the local government officials have no idea how to deal with the increasing number of dogs and dog owning population. Their misguided dog culling decisions are often based on fear.

IFAW veterinary staff working with a dog at a "spay relay" event in China this year.

Ignorance about rabies and rabies prevention is prevalent in China. The Chinese word for “rabies” is literally “mad dog disease”. Out of fear of rabies, dogs are particularly prejudiced and persecuted against.

There is no animal welfare legislation in China which means that to cull dogs in the name of rabies prevention, men with clubs would scour the streets clubbing, beating and bludgeoning dogs to death, sometimes right in front of the dog owner.

Since 1997, IFAW has successfully stopped many mass dog culls, by writing appeal letters to governments urging them to consider the negative image culling would bring to their city. We deliver letters to the local officials in the city where the cull is planned, and copy the letter to his superiors at provincial and the state level.

This tactic works! Shaming the officials is more effective than any moral argument. The local officials that call for mass culls suddenly realize that their decision could cost them their jobs because they could be blamed by their bosses for bringing negative impact to the city.

Sometimes, we enlist the help of the media and the animal loving people in China to put pressure on the government to stop a dog cull.

In 2009 when nearly 40,000 dogs are culled in Hanzhong, an online poll of 60,000 Chinese showed that 89% support China to have animal welfare legislation to prevent the inhumane killing of animals.

With another dog cull looming, millions of concerned and outraged Chinese citizens took action. In three days, they flooded online forums, blogs, social networking sites and media outlets.

Overwhelming majority of them condemn the dog cull and urge the government to replace bans with humane management systems.

Legal experts pointed out that  killing dogs rightfully owned is violating China’s Constitution and the basic rights of a citizen. Disease control experts warned that dog ban and culls are inhumane and unnecessary. Rabies can be and has been successfully controlled in many parts of the world through disease prevention with vaccination and managing dog population with sterilization.

Many expressed concern that the ban and the subsequent cull would incite conflicts, create social unrest, harm people’s feelings, thus not beneficial to China’s goal of building a harmonious society.

Under overwhelming public pressure, the Jiangmen city government withdrew the dog cull order on August 3 at 7pm Beijing time to be exact!

This is a tremendous victory! And this time, the victory completely belongs to the people of China!

To me, this victory means more than sparing the lives of innocent animals. It indicates a sea change in the public’s attitudes towards animals in China. People are standing up and saying “No” to animal cruelty. It gives me hope to see the day China will have animal welfare legislation to ban dog culls, once and for all!

-- GG

Comments: 9

6 years ago

The expression by Gandhi which you quoted above is one I have heard several times before and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately China now seems to be gaining its "greatness" in a financial, not moral manner. I really appreciate your response to my lengthy comment, but it is only so long because I am so passionate about the torture and abuse the animals in China and elsewhere in the world suffer. I often wish that I was immensely wealthy, because I would only keep the minimum I need to live on, and utilize the rest to do all in my power to alter the fate of these cruelly victimized animals of China and those in the rest of the world. However, I do not have these kinds of resources, but what I would very much like to do is to start some kind of large-scale movement here in Canada. The problem is that I have no idea, nor the connections in order to go about accomplishing this goal. Perhaps you might have some advice for me, if you have the time and the belief that I may make a difference. Thank-you again, in advance, for your attention to my reply.

6 years ago

Unfortunately the atrocities to animals you described is indeed happening in China. China does not have any legislation to prevent cruelty to animals. In fact there is no law what so ever to protect the welfare of dogs and cats. One of IFAW's key objectives in working in China is to facilitate the promulgation of animal welfare legislation. Two years ago, IFAW supported research achieved a first draft of an anti cruelty legislation by researchers at China's Academy of Social Sciences. A proposal urging for anti cruelty legislation was submitted at China's National People's Congress last March. Achieving legislation is going to be a long process and animal welfare issues is not a priority on the government's agenda. However, we argue that anti cruelty legislation is not just for animals, it is for building compassion in people and achieving harmony in society. As Gandhi said, "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated".

6 years ago

Words cannot express how thankful I am that this atrocity did not occur. I did read about it several months ago and it horrified me to the point of breaking down in tears.
There is another matter that has haunted me for several years, but I never knew where to turn in order to determine its' validity. I pray that it is not true, but due to the source of the information I fear that it is. Several years ago, on the Larry King show, a group of individuals, including humane society and other animal welfare officials, revealed that it is a very common practice in China, to skin dogs and cats ALIVE for their fur, which was then exported for use as trimmings for parkas and other clothing. The clothing, of course, did not indicate the source of the fur. After these animals were so brutally butchered, they were just tossed, like garbage onto a pile of other previously skinned animals, many of whom were still alive. Apparently, it took about 20 minutes for them to die a slow, agonizing, unimaginably horrible death. They would shake uncontrollably because they were in excruciating pain and terrible shock. They had videos, which were shot undercover. I could only watch them prior to the point where they were killed, because those scenes were horrible enough. Puppies kept in buckets in the dark, for example, and when it was time for the killing, the dogs were tied to a fence with a piece of wire wound tightly around their necks, some with their tails wagging, not knowing what horror was to follow. I could think of little else for months after that show was aired, and I cried about it on an almost daily basis, because I could feel their pain, but do nothing to rescue them from it.
I do not know the exact date of this broadcast, but I am sure this information could be obtainable by someone in your organization. If true, what can be done about it. This horrible atrocity has to be stopped because animals feel pain just as we do, both physically and emotionally.
Please help them. Thank-you, with all my heart, for what you have done in the past and are doing now, to help as many of the suffering animals as possible.

6 years ago

[...] all the chinese hate animals China Spotlight: City Residents Claim Victory in Saving their Dogs ? Chinese City Cancels Plan to Euthanize Dogs | Care2 Causes Dogs in China : A Horrific Story of [...]

6 years ago

[...] I was overwhelmed with emotion when news of the government officials canceling pending dog cull in Jiangmen reached me. It is a relief that tens of thousands of lives are spared. But what moved me even more [...]

6 years ago

Definitely a beginning in the right direction. Should we expect more such actions from the Chinese authorities to end the brutal and inhumane exploitation of their animals, including top predator tigers? Most Chinese people love animals and I wish success to all the dedicated organizations and people, in China and outside, working for the welfare of animals. Grace, please continue the good work.

6 years ago

The people's opposition forced the authorities to spare the innocent dogs. The Chinese government and the authorities should understand that ill-treatment of animals is not acceptable to their people and they will not remain mute specators to tiger farms, fur farms, and other forms of animal abuse. The government must respect the sentiments of the people all over the world, including their own people. It is heartening that the government is changing its attitude towards animals, though very slowly.

6 years ago

Thanks, Grace, for this insightful article! It's only by encouraging and supporting animal groups within China, that anyone outside China can help positive change to come about for Chinese animals.

6 years ago

Could it be that at long last China is entering the 21st century when it comes to animal welfare. They've got a long way to go yet but thanks to the good citizens of Jiangment City they're on the right road.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project