Dog-population Management in China

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Dog-population Management in China

From Animals Asia Foundation

Periodically, Animals Asia learns of government-organized dog-killings on the streets of Chinese cities. Many of these killings are in response to outbreaks of human rabies or to archaic dog-management regulations that do not allow dogs of certain sizes and breeds into public areas.

Once these orders have been given, we often see many thousands of dogs brutally slaughtered by gangs of killers using wooden batons to chase and bludgeon dogs to death.

Such archaic dog-population control is not unique to China and is seen in many cities across the world in response to rabies deaths. More than 3,000 people die from rabies in China each year and Animals Asia understands the need for the Chinese authorities to take action to protect the people and to try to prevent dog bites and further rabies deaths. However, the inhumane and irrational methods being practiced are simply not acceptable.

In recent years, we’ve seen dog-killing campaigns taking place across China. Here are some examples of the more recent and brutal dog slaughters:

  • In 2003, the Guangdong Health Ministry reported 18 per cent of dogs in the province were infected with rabies, leading to the killing of a reported 170,000 dogs in the city of Guangzhou, over 50,000 more in Lianjiang and 80,000 in Maoming. A further 200,000 were reportedly killed in neighboring Guangxi province.
  • In 2004, a further 60,000 dogs were slaughtered throughout Guangdong province and 44,000 in Cixi city, Zhejiang province. This action was prompted by the death of 10 people from rabies.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that these areas are known to be among the largest for the breeding dogs for human consumption – and these dogs are not required to be vaccinated against rabies.

In 2006, we heard of over 50,000 dogs slaughtered in Mouding County, Yunnan province following the death of a four-year-old child, and in June 2009 the slaughter of over 40,000 dogs in Hanzhong city.

Also in 2006, a round-up of dogs was carried out in Beijing City in response to dog-management regulations issued by the city authorities, leading to the confiscation of any dog that did not meet its regulations, with the aim of removing all “big” and “dangerous” dogs from Beijing.

This type of dog-management policy has been repeated in many major Chinese cities, leading to the confiscation and death of many thousands of both street and pet dogs. In many cases, dog-catchers have torn dogs away from their owners’ arms, leaving families in despair and distraught for their beloved pet.

Reasons for hope

In recent years, we have seen a growth in the development of animal-protection groups across China. Many of these groups are housing and rescuing stray dogs, as well as becoming politically active in an attempt to end future dog-killing campaigns.

During the Beijing dog purge of 2006, over 500 people protested on the city’s streets, a petition of over 60,000 signatures was presented to the government and shortly after this, the South China Morning Post reported President Hu Jintao calling for an end to the killing campaigns.

In 2006, the Nanjing police department, following a meeting with Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson MBE, our China Relations Director Christie Yang, and Ms Ha Wenjin of the Nanjing Ping An A Fu Animal Protection Group, adopted a policy of capturing stray dogs and placing them in a local animal shelter, instead of organizing a city-wide dog cull.

In May 2009, the Heihe city authorities, after publicizing a planned dog cull, decided not to implement the campaign following protests from dog-lovers instigated by the leader of the Xiamen Animal Welfare Group.

Following the appalling dog cull in Hanzhong City in June 2009, the Humane Society International, Act Asia for Animals and Beijing’s Capital Animal Protection Group in association with the China Medical Association and the China Medical Rescue Association co-sponsored a forum on Scientific, Effective and Humane Rabies Control.

This forum involved senior Chinese politicians and demonstrates the strength of feeling coming from within China to end these slaughters. The forum members agreed that China needed to adopt a long-term, scientifically-proven and humane rabies-prevention program. Please click here for details of the forum.

All of these actions provide hope for the dogs of China that one day the Chinese government will develop country-wide humane solutions to dog-population management.

To help develop the message of empathy for animals in China, we are working with Chinese animal-welfare organizations within the Animals Asia Friendship Alliance to provide the support for grass-roots educational initiatives aimed at improving the lives of China’s dogs and other animals across the country.

In 2006, we proudly hosted China’s first Companion Animal Symposium. This ground-breaking event saw 32 Chinese animal-welfare groups from across China join together to share the many problems they face and call with one voice for new solutions to help dogs and cats.

The success of our China Companion Animal Symposiums continues to grow and in 2009 we held the third Symposium, which saw 130 delegates, representing 63 animal-welfare groups and veterinary clinics once again coming together to speak with one voice for animals in China: Speaking out for animals

Animals Asia has provided information to the Chinese government on the methods of humane dog-population management – internationally recognized methods of animal birth control coupled with vaccination and effective waste-management on the city streets.

Data from Chennai, India shows a comprehensive animal birth control and vaccination program is far more effective in reducing rabies than mass slaughter. In August 2009, Chennai announced it had been a rabies-free city for a year. Through animal birth control, human rabies incidences have been reduced from 126 in 1996 down to zero. This incredible success is due to the dedication of the Blue Cross of India which pioneered this approach in the 1960s.

We will continue to work alongside the network of Chinese animal-welfare organizations to protest against each dog-culling campaign we are made aware of, to offer support and resources to authorities adopting humane methods of dog-population management.

We also will continue to seek a national policy on the adoption of animal birth control and rabies vaccinations as has proven so successful across the world and recognized as the most-effective method of controlling canine, and by extension human, rabies by the World Health organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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