South China kills dogs to send a message
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2005:
GUANGZHOU–The Guangdong provincial government seized the
2005 National Day weekend, the first in October, to send messages
to both pet keepers and Beijing.
The message for pet keepers was that the rising popularity of
pet dogs will not be allowed to jeopardize the dog meat industry,
either by spreading rabies, the pretext used for killing pet dogs in
the streets, or by building a human constituency for treating dogs
“The Guangzhou campaign follows similar crackdowns in
Shanghai and other cities across the mainland, as dog attacks and
rabies cases increase and more urban dwellers keep pets,” noted
Simon Parry of the South China Morning Post. But Parry failed to
note that the dogs most at risk from rabies are so-called “meat
dogs,” raised in close confinement and not required to be vaccinated.
The Guangdong message for Beijing was that even as the
central government strives to build a more animal-friendly image in
advance of the 2008 Olympic Games, in the part of China where dogs,
cats, and wildlife are relatively rarely eaten, the Cantonese
southern and coastal regions are quite capable of spoiling the effort.
Southern and coastal China will derive little economic
benefit from the Beijing Olympics–but if well-publicized atrocities
to animals provoke an Olympic boycott, Beijing will feel the impact.
Ruling by maintaining an often delicate balance of regional
interests, the central government is unlikely to risk disunity over
animal welfare policy, or lack thereof.
Thus the Guangzhou dog purge might be seen as a demand note:
either Guangdong will get an economic concession, such as relaxed
enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws, or it will spoil the 2008
party, in the name of protecting public health.
Beijing pressure on Guangdong during the Sudden Acute
Respiratory Syndrome epidemic of 2003 is a keenly felt regional
“Since civet cats were determined to be the main carriers of
SARS virus,” now believed to come originally from bats, “the
Guangdong provincial government [coerced by Beijing] banned the sale
of civets and other wild animals, such as pangolins and owls,”
summarized Liang Oiwen of China Daily.
“Xinyuan Market, in suburban Guangzhou, was the largest wild
animal market in Asia before the outbreak,” Liang Oiwen remembered.
“More than 100 stalls sold wild animals, but now only a dozen or so
traders stick to the trade. Before the end of the year, Xinyuan
Market will be changed into an ordinary market that sells meat and
vegetables,” Liang Oiwen wrote.
“China Daily visited 10 restaurants that had once served wild
animals and they all said that they now consider continuing the
business too risky,” Liang Oiewen finished.
In contrast to the account of the state-run China Daily, the
Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation found and recently exposed a
vigorous Guangzhau traffic in snakes, birds of many species, cats,
and dogs –and exposed the National Day weekend dog killing without
reference to the live markets.
“We are receiving emails from terrified mainland Chinese dog
lovers begging for our help,” e-mailed Animals Asia Foundation
founder Jill Robinson. “Guangzhou citizens are living in terror of
having their pets ripped from them and brutally killed. This cycle
of abuse continues year after year without ever solving the
fundamental problems of responsible pet care and stray dog control in
China,” Robinson said. “We are requesting urgent meetings with the
authorities in order that we can discuss sensible, far-reaching
solutions, but have yet to hear from anyone who will actually take
the time to listen.”
Added Simon Parry, “Only 800 of the estimated 60,000 dogs
kept as pets in Guangzhou are registered. The registration fees,
introduced in 1997,” in an attempt to curtail pet-keeping, “make
keeping a dog more expensive in Guangzhou than licencing most cars in
“Police and government officials say they are taking action
because of the spread of rabies and because hundreds of people are
being bitten by dogs every day in Guangzhou, claiming 25,000 were
injured by dogs between January and July,” Parry continued. “They
say they are taking only oversized and stray dogs, and will give
warnings and advice to other dog keepers, although police say they
may enter people’s homes if they have information about unregistered
Dog & cat fur
The latest Guangzhou dog massacre coincided with the release
of PETA video depicting the southern Chinese commerce in dogs and
cats for meat and fur.
“Millions of dogs and cats in China are being bludgeoned,
hanged, bled to death, and strangled with wire nooses so that their
fur can be turned into trim and trinkets,” PETA charged, not
mentioning the sale of the meat.
“This fur is often deliberately mislabeled as fur from other
species and exported to the U.S.,” PETA continued.
“All of J.Crew’s fur is imported from China,” PETA alleged.
“Because dog and cat fur is so often mislabeled, if you’re buying fur
from J.Crew or from any other retailer, there is no way to tell
whose skin you are wearing.”
The PETA findings closely paralleled the findings of previous
investigations done in China and South Korea by the Animals Asia
Foundation, ANIMAL PEOPLE, Swiss Animal Protection, the
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan, Care For The Wild, and the
Beijing News, among others, all of which documented similar
“PETA went into an animal market in southern China,” the
PETA web site said, “and found cats and dogs languishing in tiny
cages, visibly exhausted. Some had been on the road for days,
transported in flimsy wire-mesh cages with no food or water. Our
investigators saw dead cats on top of the cages, dying cats and dogs
inside the cages, and dogs and cats with open wounds. Up to 8,000
animals are loaded onto each truck,” PETA said, “with cages stacked
on top each other. Cages of live animals are commonly tossed from
the top of the trucks to the ground 10 feet below, shattering the
legs of the animals inside.”
Association Francaise et Internat-ionale de Protection
Animale president Nicolas Biscaye simultaneously asserted that “After
several months of investigations,” he had “been able to prove that
despite their denials, French furriers are selling cat and dog fur
imported from Asia,” contravening a 2003 government decree.
Instead of winning a conviction, Biscaye said, he found
that the decree was “unenforceable.”
Trying to stop imports of dog and cat fur from China under
existing trade legislation is difficult anywhere because customs
regulations typically exempt garments of low retail value. As dog
and cat fur is produced as a byproduct of the meat industry,
garments trimmed with it rarely rise to the minimum value of $50 at
which U.S. import restrictions would come into effect.
But associating fur-wearing in the public mind with wearing
dog and cat fur is tactically effective against the fur trade as a
whole, as evidenced by dips in U.S. retail fur sales coinciding with
the releases of the 1959 animated classic 101 Dalmatians, the video
version 30 years later, the 1996 live action version, and the 2000
“One poll in 2003 found that 40% of people would wear
sheepskin, while 15% were happy to wear mink. Only 11% thought rat
was okay, 5% would wear cat, cheetah, or tiger, and 4% would wear
dog or monkey fur,” summarized Joanna Moorhead of the London
Chinese dog and cat fur is most often msidentified as rabbit
fur–but China also produces more rabbit pelts than the rest of the