Protesters Bark Back at China's Dog Crackdown

BEIJING, China, November 13, 2006 (ENS) - It's the Chinese Year of the Dog, but dogs are under attack in China's capital, Beijing. About 500 demonstrators converged on a street outside the city zoo on Saturday to protest a new government policy that limits families to one small dog each.

Dog owners are outraged that authorities are entering homes, rounding up and killing larger dogs.

Several hundred police, some in riot gear, confronted demonstrators carrying stuffed toy dogs, posters of dogs and signs demanding that dogs not be killed.

Eighteen protesters were detained and released only after organizers agreed to disband the rally.

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Chinese authorities are eliminating dogs that do not meet the new regulations. (Photo courtesy Sirius GAO)
The one dog policy was announced Wednesday in a government circular from the city's Public Security Bureau and other agencies. Officials say it is necessary to fight rabies which claimed 318 lives across China in September.

Critics say the policy is being imposed under the guise of a rabies scare to clear the city of dogs before the 2008 Olympic Games.

Police are enforcing a 35 centimeter (14 inch) height limit on dogs and confiscating and killing oversized ones, causing outrage among dog owners who love their pets.

From November 7, the authorities have been entering people’s homes to confiscate and kill, any dog that does not meet the regulations. Beijing dog owners with a German shepherd, golden retriever, husky, or collie could get a visit from the authorities.

All unlicensed animals, and any house with more than one dog, will be subject to intrusion. The city claims that it will remove all big and dangerous dogs from Beijing within a month.

According to the Beijing Dog Keeping Regulation of 2003, 41 dog breeds are classified as dangerous dogs.

Authorities stirred up public outcry this summer when they conducted several mass slaughters of dogs to curb rabies.

In the county of Mouding in the southwestern province of Yunnan where three people had died of rabies, authorities killed 55,000 dogs, beating many to death in front of their owners.

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Dogs held at a Beijing facility (Photo courtesy Sirius GAO)
Now in Beijing, pet dogs must be on a leash and led by an adult in public, and the government notice forbids owners to take their dogs to markets, stores, commercial areas, hotels, parks, public greens, schools, hospitals, cinemas and theaters and most other public places in the city.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW, calls the dog cull "unnecessary and cruel," and says it violates the right to property of Chinese citizens. Rabies is being used to scare people under the disguise of rabies management.

The organization has launched a petition to the International Olympic Committee asking for an end to the dog slaughter.

The real goal is three-fold, IFAW says - first, 100 percent of dogs in Beijing vaccinated; second, 100 percent of dogs registered; amd third, 100 percent of large dogs eliminated. First Beijing, then the rest of China.

The Ministry of Health says 2,660 people in China died of rabies in 2004, compared with 159 reported fatalities in 1996.

In the first three quarters of this year, the country recorded 2,254 rabies cases, an increase of 29.69 percent over the same period last year.