China City Bans Dogs, Forces Owners to Part with Best Friends (Update: Ban Lifted!)
(Update 8/4/11: The city of Jiangmen has announced that it will NOT go through with the ban. It seems Chinese dog lovers were not going to quietly obey this horrific proclamation and give up their dogs. For more on this development, please see this NPR report or this brief China Daily article.
It's excellent news, but when you look more closely it's far from ideal. The China Daily article states that "Citizens will be able to keep their pets but are forbidden from taking them to some public areas including parks, city squares, schools, kindergartens, shopping malls and hotels etc. The amendment also regulates more humane ways to deal with the dogs in the prohibited areas by persuading their owners to remove the animals." So, um, dogs must go into hiding, but at least they won't be forced away from their people?)
Dogsters, how would you like it if your city or town found dogs to be too dirty and too much of a health hazard, and forced you to give up your dog?
Sure, your city has set up a 13-acre center in a rural area where you can leave your dog off forever in hopes he will be one day adopted by a rural family - if the government can get that program off the ground. Oh, and if your dog isn't so healthy? Don't worry about the government going broke on veterinary care. Your dog will be killed.
This is the situation facing thousands of dog owners in Jiangmen, a port city of nearly four million people in Guangdong province of China. According to the China Daily, between August 10 and 25 dog owners must "resettle" their dogs. Starting August 26, a "cleanup" campaign will confiscate any remaining dogs.
"We do not want to kill all the dogs in the city's urban areas, but we want to create a better environment for the city by banning dogs," a government spokesman said in the China Daily.
Despite so many people in China adopting a Western attitude toward dogs and keeping them as companions, this is still a country where dogs are looked upon by many as meat, especially southern China. Last month 15,000 dogs were slaughtered for a food festival in this area.
In addition, Maoist propaganda stating that dogs were trained by Westerners to attack Chinese have made many older Chinese fearful of dogs. Some cities, including Shanghai, have implemented a one-dog policy to limit the number of paws in public. And rabies has been on the increase, creating even more fear.
So the setting is ripe for a situation that will rip dogs and owners apart in the Guangdong province.
I feel so sorry for the dog lovers of Jiangmen. How about you, Dogsters? As I asked earlier, what if this happened in your own town? What would you do? To what lengths would you go to keep your dog at your side?
If it were to happen here in San Francisco (one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world, so not likely), I would take my dog away somewhere and get out of the murderous clutches of the local government. If that meant giving up my work and uprooting the family, I would do that before giving up Jake to the authorities. But it's probably not so "easy" to do this in China.