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Chinese Government Snatching Dogs Again, Blames Rabies

Here we go again! What a travesty! I thought at least one organization had stepped in to help China get the rabies problem under control....

Joy  |  Nov 9th 2006


China Fights Rabies By Declaring War On Dogs

Here we go again! What a travesty! I thought at least one organization had stepped in to help China get the rabies problem under control. And what is this about over-sized dogs? Last time I looked, size had NOTHING to do with whether or not a dog got rabies! It sounds to me like the Chinese government just doesn’t like dogs and doesn’t want their people having them around!

Chinese Dogsters, tell us what Dogsters around the world can do to help you! Bark in!

This article comes to us from Bloomberg.com.

Rabies Outbreak Spurs Beijing to Ban Big Dogs, Destroy Strays

By Lee Spears and Jason Gale

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) — Over-sized dogs and those without photo identification in Beijing are being snatched by the city police to curb the spread of rabies, which has killed about 200 people a month in China this year.

Human rabies fatalities nationwide surged 30 percent to 1,817 in the first nine months of the year, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 10 deaths occurred in the capital, the official Xinhua news agency said this month, as attacks by abandoned, rabid dogs escalate.

Police are killing strays before they can bite people, and ordering owners to register their pets. Beginning Nov. 1, owners without a credit card-sized license bearing their pet’s photo will face fines of up to 5,000 yuan ($635) and the confiscation of the animal. Beijing authorities also introduced a one-dog per owner policy and is enforcing a decade-old ban on “violent and large dogs,” such as German shepherds.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of human cases of rabies particularly over the last three years in China,” said Julie Hall, the World Health Organization’s team leader for communicable diseases in Beijing. “This is something that requires action.”

Police are stepping up enforcement as the rate of infection rises and China is spending $34 billion in preparation for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. More than 8,900 unregistered dogs were nabbed in the city this year, Xinhua reported last month.

My Sunshine

Even large-sized licensed dogs are being targeted. Yangguang is a registered and vaccinated Golden Retriever, whose owners call a good-natured pet. Yet, they found a notice on their front door last month advising that neighborhood regulations deemed the dog a threat to safety and public health. If not gone within a week, the notice said the dog would be impounded and possibly destroyed.

“We see all the small dogs still in the neighborhood and think, how was our dog any different?” said Li Meng, 26, who bought Yangguang, which means “Sunshine” in Chinese, over the Internet for her father. The pet is now living with a friend in another Beijing suburb. “It’s hard to say whether they’re really doing this to control rabies or just to make money.”

Tactics deployed by the city’s dog inspectors aren’t always civil, said Jeff He, a spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Beijing. In one case, a dog was beaten to death in front of its owner. Police have cut power and water supply to homes suspected of abetting clandestine canines, he said.

Dog-bite injuries in Beijing are increasing by about 10,000 a year, and reached 70,000 in the first half, according to Xinhua. The trend is similar in other cities.

Dog Beatings

Concern over the disease in August prompted organized squads of citizens in Shanghai, and in Yunnan and Shandong provinces to organize to beat dogs to death. Unvaccinated strays pose the greatest risk of spreading rabies in urban areas, according to the WHO.

Rabid dogs and other carnivores can display aggression, excessive salivation and erratic behavior. In humans, the early symptoms include fever, headache and a general feeling of malaise that can last for as long as two years. Eventually the virus travels to the brain, causing confusion, paralysis and hallucinations.

Those bitten by an infected animal can be vaccinated soon after the event. Once the disease is allowed to progress and symptoms appear, though, death usually occurs within a week.

New Epidemic?

Asia accounts for more than 80 percent of rabies cases worldwide, according to a study by researchers in China and the U.K. published in December in Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. In China, 103,200 people died of rabies in four epidemic waves between 1950 and 2004, the study’s authors said. Human cases are now approaching levels not seen since the 1980s.

A “fifth epidemic wave of rabies that began in the 1990s is gaining momentum,” the authors said. Abandoned dogs bear much the blame, they said.

“In China it is extortionately expensive to register an animal,” the WHO’s Hall said. Pets are often kept illegally and unvaccinated, she added, recommending that vaccination be compulsory and cheap.

Initial registration costs 1,000 yuan ($127) and includes the first rabies vaccination. The fee, including a booster shot, declines to 500 yuan in subsequent years.

In New York, by contrast, the annual registration costs $2.50 for a dog that has been neutered or spayed, and $10.50 for others. A rabies shot goes for about $10.

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