Monday, July 21, 2008

Dog cull in China to fight rabies

By Quentin Sommerville
BBC News, Shanghai

A county in south-west China has ordered all 50,546 dogs to be killed to fight a rabies outbreak which has killed three people, state media say.

It has taken five days, but authorities in Mouding County in south-west China say they have killed almost all of the 50,000 dogs in the area.

Some of the dogs were clubbed to death in the street as their owners watched.

Other dog owners took matters into their own hands, poisoning or electrocuting their pets.

They were paid around $0.60 (£0.32) for each dog in compensation.

China has a poor record of animal protection. There are no laws to prevent cruelty to pets.

The local government ordered the cull following an outbreak of rabies.

Three people in the county, including a four-year-old girl, have died from the disease. A further 360 have been bitten by dogs, the authorities say.

However, even the 4,000 dogs that had been immunised against rabies were put to death in case the immunisations were not effective.

Roadside checkpoints were set up to ensure that no dogs escaped. Only police and military dogs have been spared.

There are a growing number of animal rights activists in China and the country has laws protecting endangered species. But there are no regulations to protect other animals, including pets.