A New Breed of Animal Lovers Oppose Beijing's Dog Cull

BY APRIL NIGH
May 17, 2009

Attitudes towards pet ownership and care are changing in modern China as pets become an increasingly important part of many people’s lives – as a failed dog cull by the Beijing Municipal Government demonstrates.

 

This past November, Nick Feng was in a panic. His beloved Labrador, Peanut, was in danger of being confiscated and killed by the police. Peanut had not attacked anyone; neither had he destroyed public property. Peanut was simply too large to live in Beijing.

The city had launched a large-scale dog cull targeting strays, unlicensed dogs, households with multiple dogs – and in Peanut’s case – dogs exceeding the height of 35 centimetres. Feng said, of the time, “I felt that there was nothing I could do, no one to help me out to tell me how we should deal with the dog, and nowhere that we could take him.”

Feng, a music magazine editor, belongs to the growing demographic of dog owners in Beijing. In modern China, pets have become an important part of many people’s lives. There are currently about 550,000 licensed dogs in Beijing, although some estimate the total number in the municipality at around 1 million.

Unfortunately, along with this huge dog population is the lack of education regarding responsible pet ownership. This has had major consequences throughout the country, including an increasing amount of stray animals and a lack of proper vaccination, leading to the spread of rabies.

Feng eventually located a dog kennel far from the city centre, where Peanut safely stayed until President Hu Jintao officially ended the cull in late December.

Luckily, Peanut had no run-ins with the police upon his return. Because of his size, Feng was never able to legally register Peanut in his city district, and now only takes him on walks well before sunrise or after sunset, to avoid the police. The rest of the time, Peanut stays safely confined in Feng’s 65-square-metre apartment.


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