A Chinese city has killed 36,000 stray and pet dogs in a bid to wipe out rabies, state media said on Tuesday, as the country considers a draft law recognising animal rights and making such a cull illegal.
Rabies has killed 12 people in Hanzhong, in the northern province of Shaanxi, where more than 6,000 people had been bitten or scratched since late May, the China Daily said.
"The monitoring data showed that the danger caused by the dogs which carried rabies virus has increased and epidemic prevention and control is urgent," Xing Tianhu, deputy mayor of the city, was quoted as saying.
International animal rights groups have criticised China for cruelty, saying millions of animals raised for their pelts, including cats and dogs, are mistreated and inhumanely killed.
Raising dogs was banned under the rule of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong as a bourgeois pastime and was only made legal a few years ago as living standards rose.
Animal protection organisations expressed concern over the Hanzhong cull.
"The mass removal of dogs can result in the increased movement of dogs of unknown disease status from surrounding areas, thereby actually facilitating disease transmission and increasing the threat to human and animal health," Peter Williams, China director for the World Society for Protection of Animals, was quoted as saying.
China's first law to recognise "animal welfare" and include domestic animals is in the draft stage.
"Once it gets passed, the abuses of animals, such as the Hanzhong dog killings, is expected to stop," Chang Jiwen, a professor who led the drafting team, was quoted as saying.
Biting more than 6000 people? I think the problem here is that having dogs is a new thing in China and people don't know how to train them properly yet. In my neighbourhood there are alot of dogs and I pet them all the time. They know who I am now and don't bite. Dogs just want to be loved and are definitely spoiled in North America.
But in China, dogs are running around, eating shit out of gutters and biting anyone who comes near them. I don't know if killing 36000 dogs is the solution but unless people learn how to raise dogs, this problem will continue.