October 24, 2023
SINGAPORE – Local government officials in China are cracking down on stray dogs, after a toddler was mauled by a rottweiler in a residential compound, but the move has sparked public outcry.
On Oct 16, a two-year-old girl was attacked by the unleashed rottweiler in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The girl’s mother tried to defend her, but the attack left her with a ruptured kidney, fractured ribs and lacerations on her body.
She was admitted to intensive care, but is reportedly in stable condition.
The dog’s owner and an owner of an unleashed labrador present during the incident have been arrested.
Since the incident happened, local authorities across China have issued fresh directives to manage pet dogs and strays.
In Sichuan province, the city of Shehong banned “aggressive” breeds of dogs, and large ones that exceed the height of 35cm, among other measures.
County-level officials in another Sichuan city, Leshan, released a notice stating that unleashed dogs or those not kept in pens will be regarded as strays and captured.
Officials in the provinces of Shandong, Jiangxi and Hubei said stray dogs captured by the authorities would be culled if they were not adopted, the South China Morning Post reported.
Urban communities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in the southern Guangdong province have also introduced guidelines urging dog owners to be responsible, news outlet Sixth Tone reported.
These guidelines highlighted the importance of leashing dogs in public, abiding by local laws and using muzzles in crowded areas.
In one case reported by the BBC, a stray dog on a university campus in Chongqing was caught in a net by a dog catcher before it was put down.
The incident was caught on camera, and the dog’s “smiling” appearance led to discussions on social media with the hashtag #XiaoHuang, the name the pooch had been given. University officials said the dog had chased a student.
In Liaoning province, a university fired a security guard who hanged a stray dog on campus, reported state media outlet Global Times.
The nationwide crackdown has divided netizens on social media, with many calling for more humane measures, including adoption and neutering, while others said dog culling should continue.
There are no animal cruelty laws in China, apart from legislation that shields protected or endangered wildlife, and regulations on dogs differ across local governments.
The backlash against what netizens say as unwarranted cruelty against animals, prompted local officials in Hohhot, a city in Inner Mongolia, to say that stray dogs would be rounded up but not killed, reported the SCMP.
Several celebrities, including singer-songwriter Joker Xue, have spoken out against the culling.
While onstage during a concert, Xue had changed the lyrics of his song and said: “Please let the cats and dogs go”.