Earlier this month what has become known by residents as “the cruelest dog ban” was issued in China by the local government of a district in the country’s Shandong province. The ban threatens to kill all dogs kept by residents. A statement issued by the Dayang district government said that all dogs had to be removed from the district before September 10, 2015 or authorities would enter residents’ homes and kill their pets on the spot.
Dog ownership is strictly regulated in China, but still this order has taken things to a new extreme. A notice was posted on gateposts around the community stating:
“No person is permitted to keep a dog of any kind.”
The notices stated that residents need to “deal with it on your own, or else the committee will organize people to enter your home and club the dog to death right there.” The regional government has killed stray dogs before, but this new order also covers dogs that are vaccinated and registered.
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These types of culls are usually performed after a particularly bad outbreak of rabies, a disease that kills nearly 2,000 Chinese citizens each year. The order doesn’t specifically cite rabies, but it does mention the maintenance of environmental hygiene and “everyone’s normal lives” as reasons for placing the order.
No one from the government office would make a comment, but an unidentified government worker was interviewed by a local television station and said that the order was what the majority of the district’s more than 1,000 residents wanted. The man said that dogs in the area are always bothering residents and defecating all over the place. He says many people were complaining, so the government decided to enact the order.
This new order highlights the continuing weaknesses in China’s legal system particularly when it comes to private property protections and police powers. It also hints at the lack of rules for pets in public. In most cities in the United States there are leash laws and laws stating that dog owners need to clean up after their pets. Laws like these are not common in China. Another flaw in China’s legal system is the absence of animal cruelty legislation. Their government protects endangered species, but there are no laws about the mistreatment of any other wild or domesticated animals.
It is common in China for the citizens to be sharply divided on the subject of dogs. They are usually either animal lovers or people who see canines as a threat to the public. It’s not just because they are cold hearted people. The keeping of dogs in China was actually outlawed during the first few decades of the People’s Republic of China. Owning dogs was also denounced by Communist leaders as an over-the-top luxury and a waste of scarce resources.
Over the last twenty years, dog ownership in China has grown exponentially, despite the restrictions of large dogs in urban areas. A promising animal rights movement has also cropped up in the country recently. Dog lovers have been known to blockade trucks shipping dogs off to be slaughtered at market. Hopefully the animal rights trend continues to grow in the country. There is only a small percentage of people who eat canine meat, as it is becoming a taboo practice.
Writing stories like this one make me even more thankful that I live in the United States. I couldn’t imagine a ban on dog ownership, and I certainly couldn’t imagine life without our wonderful canine companions. Kudos to the animal activists in China and hopefully the government will be able to see that the wants of their people are not aligning with their legislation.