China’s Curbing the Dog Population, Thousands at a Time

ABC's Emily MacDonald reports:

Since the end of May, 12 people in Hanzhong, the northern province of Shaanxi, have died of rabies -- in response authorities have killed between 34,000 and 36,000 dogs in the region. These dogs included beloved pets as well as strays. Dogs are either shot, beaten on site or taken away to be destroyed later. Some cities have shelters, but the majority of dogs are not that lucky.

This is not the first time that the Chinese government has performed this kind of mass extermination of the dog population to curb disease or overpopulation. Before the Olympics in 2008, thousands of dogs were rounded up around the capitol. A Chinese artist named Guo Jian, who has an art studio in the suburbs of Beijing, lost two of three dogs on his property in the months leading up to the games. “I wasn’t home that day and when I came back the neighbors told me that the local police had come up," Jian told ABC News. The police took two of the dogs, while the neighbors where able to hide a third.

Guangzhou is set to host the Asian American Games in 2010, and in preparation the local government has enacted a new regulation limiting each household to one dog that will take effect on July 1st. Additional dogs, if found by police, will be culled, and their owners will be fined. According to the Associated Press, there have been a startling number of abandoned pets since the regulation was announced, and animal activists are concerned about what will likely happen to these unfortunate strays.

All this is going on as China’s first animal welfare legislation is being drafted. The legislation would potentially put a stop to “dog culling,” but whether this new law will be enforced is yet to be seen. In 2006, the 'outhern China Daily announced that president Hu Jintao put a stop to the mass roundup of dogs. However that did not stop the police from continuing to collect dogs both from the street and private homes, including the two dogs seized from Gou Jian’s property.

“I have dreams about them,” Jian said about his missing pets. The dog who escaped, nicknamed Wu Ming, meaning ‘no name’, is still with Jian. “He was lucky.”

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