/ Nation

Campaign: Barking up wrong tree?
By Wu Jiao(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-16 05:39

NANJING: A one-month campaign has begun to reduce the number of dogs in public places in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province.

But already there is concern, especially from animal protectionists, about the move which allows dogs to be killed.

According to the Nanjing Public Security Bureau, which launched the campaign yesterday, special police officers will be found in public gardens, squares, and major streets to capture and kill wandering dogs which are not with owners.

The campaign comes after dogs bit many people and thousands of residents came forward to be vaccinated against rabies.

City regulations ban owners from bringing their pet dogs to public places and disturbing other people.

The rules state that all dogs which enter public areas without a proper reason such as medical treatment or a public performance can be killed by public security bureaus or other units entrusted with the task.

However, officials from the police bureau said the campaign will not kill domestic dogs roaming public places. Instead, owners will receive warnings and fines between 300 (US$37.5) and 1,000 (US$125) yuan.

The campaign has met with strong objections from animal rights activists.

"Homeless dogs which roam the streets have often already been abused by irresponsible former owners. What we should do is to save them from hunger and provide them with a safe home. How can some people come up with the idea of slaughtering them?" said Yang Xi, a student at Nanjing University who often feeds wild dogs and cats on her campus.

Yang suggested calling for more volunteers to raise such dogs instead of killing them.

People like Yang say it is not the innocent dogs but irresponsible owners who cause the current chaos.

"They pay no attention to the dog's life and the feeling of the people around them. It is disgusting to see them dragging along a dirty little dog everywhere," said Qiu Shukui, a manager for a computer sales company, who has a pet dog.

However, many people, especially those who do not own dogs, said they welcomed the campaign.

"Those dogs affect our lives greatly with their biting, barking late at night, and their faeces discharged everywhere. It is time to put a stop to it," said Gao Yanping, a 41-year-old woman in the Qinhuai District.

Gao said a dog bit eight people in her residential district over the weekend. A pregnant woman had to get an abortion.

A recent survey of the pet trade market in the Confucius Temple, a flea market in the city, showed that the majority for sale there had not been vaccinated.

The number of dogs in the city has soared rapidly since 2004 when the rules on owning them changed, according to Wu Yong from the public security department.

"Previously, people had to register their dogs with the public security bureau and vaccinate their dogs regularly in order to get a dog licence. After that rule was cancelled, the supervision of dog owners became increasingly loose and more cases of dogs harassing or hurting people were reported," said Wu.

Statistics from the Nanjing Disease Prevention and Control Centre show more than 11,000 citizens in Nanjing came forward for the rabies vaccine between January and July this year.

"Most came after being bitten by a dog. About 60 people come per day during the hot season of July and August," said one staff member.

(China Daily 08/16/2006 page3)