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Friday, July 3, 2009

China's Dog Cull came to an end .. at last

From: Human Society of US

Reports from various sources inside China confirm that a dog cull of nightmarish proportions in Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province, China has finally come to an end. This massive, government-initiated, indiscriminate slaughter began May 20th in response to several cases of rabies associated with dog bites. More than 33,000 dogs died a cruel death in the killing spree. The brutality was condemned by animal lovers around the world.

Response to an Outcry

Despite the fact that the local government had vowed earlier this month to continue destroying the animals, it failed to do so—apparently due to strong protest by the Chinese people and mounting pressure from the international community, including Humane Society International (HSI).

According to a reliable source close to the Shaanxi government’s representative office in Beijing, the governor of Shaanxi sent three directives to the Hanzhong government expressing concern over the controversial dog cull carried out in that city.
HSI, in collaboration with Animals Asia Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Act Asia for Animals, had earlier sent a letter [PDF] to the governor urging him to intervene and stop the dog cull in his province. Now, it seems that he has heard our message.

Meanwhile, HSI’s animal advocates around the world have been adding their signatures to a petition addressed to Chinese president Hu Jintao, urging him to stop the cull immediately and prevent any more such tragedies; and donating to a special fund set up to help sterilize and vaccinate dogs in China.
It is thrilling to see that the growing Chinese animal welfare movement has such tremendous support. This turn of events is evidence of their power, and that of caring people around the world, to make a real difference.

A Better Way

As HSI pointed out in letters sent to the governor and other relevant officials, the indiscriminant massacre of thousands of dogs (which here reportedly included both homeless animals and pets) is not a solution to preventing rabies. The slaughter in Hanzhong was supposedly initiated in response to dog bite incidents and a few cases of rabies-caused deaths. However, local citizens believe the government was looking for an excuse to deal with the city’s dog overpopulation problem.

Experience has shown that proper management of street animals through techniques such as sterilization and vaccination is the most effective way to handle such situations. HSI works worldwide to set up such programs with the cooperation of governments and community partners. Our efforts in India, Bhutan and Ethiopia, for example, may serve as useful models.

To help end the use of dog culling as an attempt to avoid rabies, HSI co-sponsored with Act Asia for Animals and Beijing’s Capital Animal Protection Group a forum on Scientific, Effective and Humane Rabies Control. This one-day session, held on June 28th in Beijing, pulled together Chinese officials and experts from the National Disease Control Center, the General Veterinary Bureau of Agriculture Ministry, and the China Medical Foundation.

The forum reached a consensus on the need for China to speed up policy change in favor of adopting a long-term, scientifically-proven and humane rabies prevention program. Members of China’s mainstream media were present at the forum, representing the growing interest in this issue from around the country.

A formal set of recommendations shall be submitted to the appropriate Chinese government offices. Hopefully, the officials of other cities in China will look to more humane methods in the future, and the horror of the Hangzhong/Yangxian dog cull will never be repeated. For now, China’s dog lovers can rest easier—and feel proud, knowing that they helped silence the howls of pain and terror through their own cries for mercy and justice.

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