The world has the general knowledge that the Chinese eat dog meat, and that dogs are not slaughtered in a humane manner. However, the world is also blissfully ignorant that China now has so many roaming street dogs, that she does not know what to do with them.
Nevertheless, even in 2018, there are still millions of Chinese who believe in the ancient traditions of eating tortured dog meat during the winter months, as it is said to help strengthen a persons Qi (energy) and keep it warm, thus maintaining balance in the human body. Dogs are tortured just before being eaten so that the adrenaline pumping through them will improve the quality of their meat.
In a number of cities throughout the country, it is now illegal to buy, sell or eat dog meat without legitimate government approval. As a result, pet theft has risen sharply. Videos of the capture and violent public shaming of dog thieves have also become commonplace on the Chinese Internet. Perhaps due to a combination of public pressure, activists, lawmakers and pet owners, more and more dogs are being spared the kitchen table; only now it seems they may end up dead anyway.
In Shaanxi Province, Xi’an police have said that they collect on average 4,000 street dogs annually, and while they try hard to have the dogs adopted, more and more keep appearing on the streets. In Nanjing, The Paper has reported local police have taken care of over 30,000 street dogs. It has also recently been reported that, since May, 2018, strays have attacked sufficient people across the country that the government is now adopting drastic measures.
A girl in Hunan province, attending Xiangtan University reported that she was bitten and injured by a total of six street dogs on her school grounds. In Beijing’s Chaoyang District, eight bites have been reported, while a case of human rabies infection, reported in Hangzhou, resulted in death. In 2017, a total 502 people reportedly died from rabies in China, according to statistics revealed by the National Department of Infectious Diseases. The question on everyone’s mind is if one is bitten, who is liable for compensation?
“There doesn’t seem to be a surge in stray dogs in Nanjing yet, but I can predict we will begin to see one soon”, said local Nanjing resident Zhang Yuan. The problem Chinese society now faces is its new-found, lifelong devotion to its pooch pals. “I think the reason we see so many now is because people buy them as pets and when they grow bigger, people don’t want them anymore”, she added.
Speaking with The Nanjinger, Dave Zhai of international pet relocator UPet, commented, “It’s easy to say but hard to perform. First, adoption instead of buying; it’s a long way to go because Chinese people normally love dogs with special breeds, [therefore] we need more education. Second, TNR-Trap Neuter Release; you can’t help all the stray animals, but you can prevent from there being more stray animals. We can advocate people to TNR by cooperating with some animal clinic to spay animals at a very low price”.
Dogs are also not the only animals with a large stray population; there has been a substantial local street cat population for a number of years. Nanjing University students have even taken the initiative with their “Pets Family” association, founded to care for stray cats on campus in 2012.
The more pet related companies, such as Nanjing’s UPet, Shanghai Animal Rescue and Second Chance Animal Aid, keep growing their presence in China, the more accurate predictions that Chinese attitudes toward responsible pet ownership can continue to change.