ACTAsia is a new organisation set up by experienced Asian animal activists to develop and promote sustainable and professional animal advocacy in Asia.
Asia is the world’s most populous continent. Industrialised animal use is escalating here. However, animal protection is a relatively new concept, and there are very few animal activists tackling a multitude of issues. The challenges they face include social isolation and lack of support in some cultural contexts, severely constricted civic freedom in some countries, lack of funding and inability to professionalise their work through paid human resources. Although there are many international sources of information and funding, these tend to focus on specific projects and animal protection issues. Existing resources can require considerable adaptation to transfer this knowledge in a culturally relevant manner.
ACTAsia plans to tackle the challenges faced by Asian animal activists. The animal welfare movement benefits greatly from the sharing of knowledge and experience of its advocates, and ACTAsia welcomes support and guidance from organisations and individuals who would like to contribute to this endeavour.
When writing to the Chinese authorities, please be aware of the following:
Letters should be polite and point out the facts, explaining why more humane alternatives are also more effective. If there is any particular action you are planning to take (for example, refusing to travel to China, boycotting Chinese products) please mention it. We know that it is very difficult not to become angry when the situation is so horrifying. However, letters should not be insulting – this will only make matters worse for the animals and people who are already suffering. Words such as barbaric, primitive, savage, uncivilised and evil should not be used. There could be severe repercussions for people in the country who are working on behalf of the animals if the government feels that they are responsible for verbal attacks by the international community.
22-11-2006: Tragic fate awaits Beijing dogs
It is not only the dogs that are being confiscated – because they are unlicensed, ‘surplus’, too big or too dangerous – that are doomed to die in the government dog pound.
The same tragic fate awaits dogs that have been abandoned on the streets, discarded by their owners to avoid being fined by the police during their house searches.
Owners who cherish their dogs are trying to keep them away from the authorities. Some dogs in the danger zone are being kept permanently indoors. Others are being sent to farms in rural areas, in the hope that they will be safe there. Many of these dogs, however, have been reported missing and their fate is unknown.
One dog owner tells us: “I have a one-year-old husky. My dog and I are still okay, but our lives have changed completely. Before the dog killing campaign we could go out twice a day, and on weekends we could go to the pet park, but after the dog control policy started, we dare not step outside the house, and I dare not open the door to any stranger. Even the pet park is now closed to dogs taller than 35cm, such as mine.
“My dog has now stayed inside the house for 15 days. He has become very nervous, but I have no choice. Many of my friends are sending their dogs to villages, but I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to be separated from my dog. I have also heard that some people’s dogs have been lost in the villages.”
As a consequence of the current policy, rescue groups in Beijing are flooded with roaming or unwanted animals. The dogs in the rescue centres aren’t safe either. The regulations, combined with the amount of increased work, make it impossible to have them all registered before adoption. On top of this, the new policy is also promoting a negative attitude towards dog-keeping, making it hard to get the public to adopt dogs.
12-11-2006: Concerned dogowners gather for protection of dogs.
On 11th November at 11am thousands of dog owners and residents of Beijing gathered in front of Beijing Zoo to sign a petition calling for the protection of dogs in Beijing. This is the first ever public gathering for the protection of humankind’s best friend in China, and was brought about by the recent action by the Beijing authorities of confiscating and killing pet dogs who are over 35cm in height or listed as one of 41 dangerous breeds. Homes with unlicensed dogs or more than one dog were also given the same treatment.
The Beijing authorities have made a direct connection between the size of a dog and the danger it poses to humans. This decision has created panic among dog owners, and they fear the killing of an innocent family member without any real justification.
According to the officials, this drastic crackdown is due to the increase of rabies in 2006. However, the Chinese Small Animal Protection Society points out that the dogs currently being targeted by the Beijing authorities have in fact the lowest opportunity to spread rabies, because the owners regularly have their dogs vaccinated against the disease.
Professor Zu, an epidemiologist, states: “The majority of the 318 rabies deaths in September 2006 were not in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Kongzhou, but in rural provinces of China. Most villagers in these areas do not know that dogs should be vaccinated, and are unaware that they should be given treatment if bitten or scratched by a dog. This is why promoting mass vaccinations, improving the quality of rabies vaccines, public education and keeping rural animals out of urban areas are much more effective methods of preventing rabies than a mass killing of pet dogs.”
Once again ACTAsia urges the Beijing authorities to amend their current list of dangerous breeds, cancel height restrictions for licences and follow WHO recommendations on implementing mass vaccination of dogs to effectively control rabies.
What if you had to hide your dog from the authorities, or take it away from your home to stop it from being beaten to death? If you were a dog owner in Beijing, and you happened to own a German Shepherd, St Bernard, Golden Retriever, Husky, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog or even a Cocker Spaniel, you could get a visit from the authorities. They have been given the power to enter your home and drag your canine friend away. Your dog’s only fault could be its size – any dog above 35cm in height has been classified as ‘big’ in Beijing, and these dogs, along with others on the ‘dangerous’ list, are no longer allowed in major parts of the city.
Inhumane destruction of dogs is nothing new in China – in July this year, more than 50,000 dogs were killed by the authorities because of a rabies scare. Methods used included electrocution, strangulation, poison and even beating them to death. Beijing appears to be following up on this policy by enforcing a 2003 regulation which does not allow the keeping of 41 ‘dangerous’ breeds1 or any breed with a height of more than 35cm (14 inches) in its 8 focused management areas. From November 7th, the authorities will enter people’s homes to confiscate, and presumably kill, any dog that does not meet its regulations. All unlicensed animals, and any house with more than one dog, will also be affected in the same way. The city claims that it will remove all ‘big’ and ‘dangerous’ dogs from Beijing within a month. There an estimated 1 million pet dogs in Beijing, of which just above half are registered2.
It is admirable that Beijing is trying to enforce dog management policies to solve issues such as dog bites, rabies and environmental pollution - however, their inhumane and irrational methods are not going to improve the situation. The Beijing authorities have made a direct connection between the size of a dog and the danger it poses to humans. This does not appear to have any supporting evidence, as many of the breeds on their list are not seen as dangerous in other parts of the world. Also, any large dog is supposedly a danger, which is totally unscientific.
Ostensibly this sudden crackdown is due to the spread of rabies, increasing stray populations, and, according to one Beijing official, concern that ‘big dogs are causing fear in the public, particularly in the elderly, children and pregnant women, and they also attack other dogs.”3 However, that does not explain the sudden decision to enforce a 3-year-old regulation. Sceptics in China have put forward other reasons – it is possible that this is a step taken for the approaching Olympics, a precursor to banning pet ownership, or a reaction to the adverse media coverage of the summer’s dog massacre.
Thousands of dog owners in Beijing have reacted with concern and distress to this new action by the authorities. Pei Su, Executive Director of ACTAsia for Animals, commented: “This policy will cost thousands of friendly dogs their lives. It is likely that these unreasonable measures will spread to the rest of the country, causing many more inhumane deaths. We urge the Beijing municipality to amend its current list of dangerous breeds, and cancel height restrictions for licences.”
Professor Zu, Epidemiology Professor at An Huei University, comments: “There are many effective measures that can be taken to control and prevent rabies in China, for example, promoting responsible ownership, mass vaccination, improving rabies vaccine quality in China, and keeping rural animals out of urban areas. Mass culling appears to be an easy option for rabies control, but its ineffectiveness has been proved by collaborative studies with the WHO in many countries.”
ACTAsia urges the Beijing authorities to implement humane dog management and follow WHO-recommended mass dog vaccinations as an effective rabies control policy4. ACTAsia has also sent guidelines and suggestions on humane dog population management and rabies control to the Chinese authorities, and asks them to examine these guidelines and implement a more humane, effective policy in the country.
ACTAsia for Animals is an organisation set up by experienced Asian animal activists to develop and promote sustainable and professional animal advocacy. ACTAsia represents Action and Compassion Together. ACTAsia is currently based in India, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
"Blessed are the
meek: for they shall
inherit the earth."
(Matthew 5:5)Who are the
meek? I guess it
depends who you ask, but
I think the meaning
implied in the passage
above has somehow been
lost over the
It is said that
the eyes are the windows
to the soul. There
is much to be said about
this. You can see
emotion through the eyes,
can you not? You
can often tell if a
person is lying or not by
looking into their
When we are born, we are
aware of our spiritual
this is the part of
ourselves with which we
are most aware! The
body is new.
Wow! Look at those
fingers and toes!
As to the mental aspect
of self, we were ha...
I no longer choose to
trust the medical system
with caring for my health
in any significant
way. If I need
stitches or an emergency
But for my ongoing health
care, no thank you.
I do not believe in their
The turning of the
brings hope of new
things, but the truth is
that new things occur
moment in time. And
just as we have the
tradition of making
on New Year's Day, we
can also resolve to
change how we express ...