Wednesday, August 02, 2006

China Viciously Massacres 54,000 Dogs in Rabies Scare

Urge Chinese Ambassador to U.S. to stop future culls

In a shocking display of cruelty that has triggered an international outcry, Chinese officials in the southeastern county of Mouding in Yunnan Province ordered the brutal execution of at least 54,429 dogs last week. The reason: A third human death from rabies in a county of 200,000 people.

A massive task force led by the Director of the Public Security Bureau carried out the mass-killing over a five day-period beginning on Tuesday, July 25th. In cities around the county, task force officers stopped guardians who were walking their dogs and beat the animals to death with clubs while their guardians looked on in horror. Sometimes, officers poisoned the dogs, or killed them by hanging or electrocution. Under cover of night, the officers raided the rural countryside, provoking dogs to bark so they could find and bludgeon their canine victims to death. All of this was done on the County Government’s orders.

To save themselves some work, Mouding County officials also offered guardians a financial incentive of 5 yuan (about 62 cents) to kill their own dogs. Guardians faced a horrible choice between putting their own animal companions down using the most humane methods available to them or waiting for the Death Squads to arrive and torture their family members until they lay lifeless. By Sunday, July 30th, over 90% of the county's dogs were murdered in cold blood; only guard dogs and police dogs were spared.

About 4,000 dogs in Mouding County were already vaccinated against rabies, but these were killed as well because a veterinary official claimed that vaccination is only 85% effective in preventing transmission of the disease. Based on this assessment, public health authorities dismissed vaccination plans as inadequate and pronounced the massacre necessary to safeguard the county's human population. However, even if it had been the case that killing dogs was the only way to protect people from rabies, the animals should have been humanely euthanized, not beaten to a bloody pulp. The exceptionally malicious and cruel attacks Public Security Bureau officers perpetrated against China's dogs and their helpless guardians would be inexcusable under any circumstances.

Some medical and legal authorities blame the Chinese Government for not taking enough preventive measures against rabies. Dr. Francette Dusan, an expert from The World Health Organization (WHO) who specializes in diseases people can contract from animals, criticized China's rabies control methods, most of which she said "(consist) of purely reactive dog culls." An editorial in Legal Daily, the newspaper of the central government's Politics and Law Committee, put it more bluntly: "Wiping out the dogs shows these government officials didn't do their jobs right in protecting people from rabies in the first place."

Rabies is on the rise throughout China, with 2,651 deaths attributed to the disease reported in 2004 out of a population of approximately 1.2 billion. There are hundreds of millions of canine companions across China, yet only about 3% have received rabies vaccinations. Mass dog culls are likely to continue until the Chinese government makes preventing rabies through vaccination programs and public education a higher priority.

What You Can Do:

Write, call or fax the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. urging him to ensure that other counties don't follow Mouding's bad example and to push his government to initiate effective preventive measures against the spread of rabies.

His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 328-2574
Fax: (202) 328-2582

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