Guangdong City's Dogs Face Uncertain Future

Jiangmen authorities have backed down, for now, after warning pet owners in three city districts that any dogs found in public after August 26th would be seized and possibly killed. From the Global Times’ original report on the policy:

The move aims to “prevent and control rabies, maintain public order and sanitation, and create a sound environment for the people,” the Jiangmen Daily reported, citing a government announcement ….

Li [Li Wantong, technology director at an animal disease control center] estimated that the new rule will likely affect more than 30,000 dogs in the city of 4 million people.

This is not the first anti-dog campaign to be launched in Jiangmen. Back in August 2005, the city also encouraged people living in downtown areas to hand in their dogs, but received no response ….

The new policy has “negatively affected our business,” a pet shop clerk in Pengjiang district told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. “We have stopped selling dogs for quite a while now.”

Authorities later modified the plan, however, following outraged reactions from local dog owners. From the Global Times’ follow-up:

Instead of destroying their pets, the government would now advise owners to “resettle” their dogs outside the restricted areas, the new government statement said. The move represented a step back from a regulation drafted by five city government bodies ruling all dogs be seized or killed ….

More than 100 dog owners held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to protect their dogs from being seized or killed by the city government.

It wasn’t a successful meeting, a participant told the Global Times on Wednesday, failing to achieve any consensus.

“Too many people gathered in the hotel, divided by reporters coming for interview,” he said, “and we also felt some pressure from outside.”

Most people at the meeting had been confused about the vague wording of the regulation and wondered whether it was really directed against all pet dogs in Jiangmen, explained the owner, who requested anonymity.

While China’s rabies problem is severe, some experts say that the original policy would do little to address it if enacted. From The Guardian:

“This [ban] is not scientific, not humane, and it will not last long. In short term, maybe it could be effective, but after that, people still want to keep dogs,” said Dr Tang Qing of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention at China’s Centre for Disease Control. “People won’t accept it and implementing it will be difficult – you can’t break down doors to seize and kill dogs.”

He added that a vaccination programme for dogs would be cheaper and more effective ….

The health ministry says 3,300 people died of the disease in 2007, although the toll fell to 2,466 in 2008 and experts believe the worst may be over.

A 2009 ministry report said only a fifth of China’s 75m dogs were vaccinated against the disease. It added that 40 million people a year were bitten by animals.


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