China's southwest Yunnan province has “culled” nearly 5,000 dogs to try to stop a deadly rabies epidemic that is sweeping through the canine population, reports Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.
Pressured by five human deaths in the past three months, the municipal government in Baoshan City has an urgent need to stop the rising threat and, in addition to killing over 4,500 dogs, it has also vaccinated another 100,000 in its first anti-rabies campaign. The city has issued an order calling for authorities to tightly control dogs and to kill all strays, according to the Latin Post.
One human casualty in July was followed by four more in August, Xinhua reports. Thus far, Shidan and Longling Counties, along with the Longvang District, .have reported a rash of dog bites.
This is not the first time the Chinese government has ordered mass culling of dogs. In 2006, 16 human deaths caused by rabies were reported after a wave of dog attacks in east China's Shandong Province, which resulted in two reported cullings.
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In 2009, Hanzhong city authorities in Shaanxi providence killed around 37,000 dogs after a rabies outbreak, according to the Associated Press. Some of the animals were reportedly clubbed to death.
In late 2010, Shanghai stirred controversy when it proposed to cull stray dogs after the city saw a spike in the number of dog attacks – rising from an average 100,000 a year to 140,000 that year, reports South China Morning Press.
Rabies has been rare in China because dog ownership was condemned by the early Communist era. However, according to the Post-Gazette, in Beijing the number of registered dogs hit 1 million in 2012.
With many younger citizens adopting the Western world’s puppy love and dogs becoming more popular in the mainland’s affluent areas, the government is now faced with serious new challenges--pet overpopulation and stray dogs.
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In a country where the government regulates almost every aspect of daily life, there is the power to implement the humane solution---require spay/neuter and rabies vaccination upon obtaining a canine pet, rather than ‘culling’ thousands in the streets or confiscating them from loving owners’ arms.