In response to a rabies outbreak, “dog beating squads” have been sent out to kill dogs in Hanzhong, China. As of yesterday, 36,000 dogs have been killed, which includes both strays and pets, vaccinated or not.
Animal lovers and animal rights groups are criticizing the Chinese government’s management tactics, along with other accounts of animal cruelty. However, since China currently has no animal welfare laws in place, there’s nothing that can be done legally to protect animals there.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Asia Regional Director, Grace Ge Gabriel, “Mass killing of dogs is ineffective in controlling rabies in the long-term. By choosing not to implement a sensible rabies vaccination program, Hanzhong government has failed to protect the health of its citizens. Furthermore, the brutal killing of dogs continues to highlight the need for legislation that will ensure the humane treatment of all animals.”
Peter Williams, Director of the World Society for Protection of Animals in China also pointed out that removing dogs could actually increase the spread of rabies by opening up an area for more animals to move into.
If there is a bright side to this, it’s that IFAW has been working with the Chinese government to draft national animal welfare laws that would protect animals, in addition to calling for vaccination and sterilization to address overpopulation issues.