Chinese College Poisons Stray Dogs; No Law to Protect Them

Chinese College Poisons Stray Dogs; No Law to Protect Them
Photo Credit: Columbo222 CC BY SA 3.0

What you need to know

A college in China has reportedly sent security guards to poison stray dogs at a nearby shelter, once again sparking discussions about the country's lack of animal protection laws.

A Facebook post highlighting China’s lack of animal protection laws has gone viral, garnering more than 15,000 shares since it was published on Sept. 10.

The post by Li Chunhao (李駿豪) shows video and photos of a woman, whom Li refers to as “Aunt Zhao,” distraught over the poisoning of stray dogs she had been taking care of at a shelter.

Li says the dogs were poisoned by security guards from the nearby Harbin Sports College, ostensibly due to the school’s anniversary celebrations on Sept. 10.

Chinese media Tecent on Sept. 7 reported that seven dogs under Aunt Zhao’s care were poisoned to death and one remains missing.

School authorities told Tecent that, “Everyone has their own explanation of the event, and you will have to wait and see what our public relations department has to say.”

In his post, Li said the incident occurred because China does not have animal protection laws, which has “fostered subcultures of animal cruelty since any and all animal abuse is fully legal.”

China currently has no animal welfare laws to protect domestic animals. The only regulation is a “Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife” that was “formulated for the purpose of protecting and saving the species of wildlife which are rare or near extinction, protecting, developing and rationally utilizing wildlife resources and maintaining ecological balances” [italics added].

IN 2006, National People's Congress deputy Zhou Ping (周平) introduced the country’s first animal protection law. However, the law did not move forward because there was “only a small voice calling for change,” Zhou told the Economist in 2008.

“The related department replied saying they would look into it. It was the usual bureaucratic wording,” Zhou told Global Times in 2012.

He Yue, a lawyer and law professor from Tianjin who has twice recommended an animal welfare law be passed, told the Global Times that "Perhaps the government has too much on its agenda to make this legislation a priority."

“Another reason is there are so many government departments involved in legislations like this and it's not always clear which should take the lead," He said.

A team of legal scholars in 2009 drafted another animal protection law, but the legislature has yet to adopt the draft proposal.

As the European Society of Dog and Animal Welfare (ESDAW) reported, “A 2011 survey of about 6,000 Chinese found that while about two-thirds of respondents had never heard of ‘animal welfare,’ 65.8 percent expressed at least partial support of animal-welfare laws, and more than half said they were fully or partially willing to pay more for humane animal products.”

Despite seeing difficulties in pushing forward related laws, the animal protection movement in China is still growing, with more local NGOs taking part in raising awareness of the issue. Increased media attention has also played a crucial role in the improvements, Qin Xiaona, president of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, told the China Daily.

Qin said there is still “a long way to go” in changing the “conventional mindset of the public,” and legislation is “what will make our job easier.”

Edited by J. Michael Cole