October 03, 2005

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Anyone care to hazard a guess as to the cost of obtaining a dog license in Guangzhou? It's 700. Renminbi? No. British Pounds. That's over RMB10,000. And then you pay another 400 pounds (RMB 5,727) a year for the privilege.

This article in the Independent from its Beijing correspondent David Eimer talks about how the Guangzhou authorities are rounding up unlicensed dogs and butchering them on the streets, sometimes in front of their owners, who cannot afford to pay for this bourgeois luxury.

Desperate owners afraid of a summary execution of their best friend are having their vocal cords removed so they won't be found out.

It's all very shocking to me, even when I know China is tough on rabies. I guess Guangzhou must not have a very strong chapter of the SPCA... any bloggers out there happen to know what country kills the most dogs per annum?

posted by HK Dave on 10.03.05 at 10:12 PM in the


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Guangzhou pet dogs beaten to death by government teams
Excerpt: Posted by Martyn Last week in Guangzhou I heard from friends that government dog-confiscation teams were turning up at veterinary clinics, slaughtering all the sick dogs on the premises and taking away their bodies to be destroyed. I also heard...
Weblog: The Peking Duck
Tracked: October 4, 2005 01:50 AM


You're right Dave. Last week my girlfriend came in (I live in Guangzhou) and told me that government-sent peasants were going to f*****g vets and rounding up sick dogs and taking them away to be killed. Owners then turned up afterwards and were told that their dogs had been taken away by the govt and killed.

The Guangzhou govt are f*****g scum. Any country that can do this is a f*****g shit-hole.

The article is correct about the licenses, 10,000 yuan then 6,000 yuan every year afterwards. This is because the Guangzhou govt do not want anyone to raise dogs in Guangzhou. COmpare that to Chongqng that, I've heard, have scrapped license fees altogether.

As you might be able to tell, I have three dogs and I would commit murder with my bare hands if any peasant tried to take one of them away. I would happily beat them to death with their own shoes and even more happily accept the consequences.

The Guangzhou govt should sort this out and soon if it wants to become a semi-civilized city.

Thanks for this Dave, I'm going to link on TPD.

posted by: Martyn on 10.04.05 at 12:10 AM [permalink]

It is almost certainly the United States that culls the most animals in the world. According to one MSNBC article I read, there are over 70 million domesticated dogs in the US, it is likely that tens of thousands of dogs are put down each year. A google search turned up a 1999 reuters article which says that 22,000 dogs were put down each year in Bitain, a more recent one from the Beeb said 20+ were being put down each day. The independant article you listed to estimated that there were only 60,000 dogs in Guangzhou, which is a very low rate of dog ownership considering the city has a population of over 10 million.

posted by: Jing on 10.04.05 at 01:51 AM [permalink]

i am not sure if scrapping the license fee is a good thing. (it surely has its downside, and putting down any life is not to be endorsed)

i know this is a capitalistic view, but with the license fee as a threshold it ensures the responsibility of the owners: that they can afford to take their pets to the vet and take good care of the dog/etc. (whether it should be 700Yuan or 700 quid is another question)

you need to know the alternative when you oppose the license deal. in the past (even now in rural areas) dogs were kept as door-guards, and some owners would kill them for food when they get old. at least that won't happen if they are paying 10k yuan to keep them.

the renewal fee perhaps should be reduced to a nominal number, e.g. RMB20. because owners may abandon the pet when you cannot afford to keep it. stray dog can really spread rabies.

posted by: sun bin on 10.04.05 at 02:21 AM [permalink]

Thanks Jing, that was why I asked the question the way I did, because I suspect (but don't have hard evidence) that China does not cull more dogs each year than other countries, at least not as a percentage of the population.

However, I suspect that the methods of culling dogs appear to be different from country to country. While you mention a high number of cullings in Britain and the USA, my understanding is that they are done quite humanely, more often than not because they are old and dying, and with lethal injections that induce sleep rather than brutally with clubs and knives. Regardless of the reason (rabies) for the culls, they do not need to be so brutal.

I suppose that given that in Guangzhou (as opposed to some other parts of China) dogs make it on the dinner table, the authorities there wouldn't treat dogs any differently from chickens or pigs. Overall, also, Chinese more generally from my experience (not just the Cantonese) appear to have a much more limited view of animal rights compared to the West.

Sun Bin, I admire your blog and usually we agree, but I think this time I am more in Martyn's camp. Even as a non-dog owner, I have to agree with the points he makes on Peking Duck that actually many other animals carry rabies, not just dogs, and that they are subject to a much higher hurdle than the others. I would also look favorably on his suggestion to make mandatory rabies innoculations.

The most convincing argument, pro or con, would be to find out whether these measures by the Guangzhou authorities result in a much lower rabies infection rate than that of Shenzhen, where I believe there are no dog licensing fees...anyone know this?

posted by: HK Dave on 10.04.05 at 08:27 AM [permalink]

An even more interesting contrast would be with Hong Kong.

Martyn, I'm sharing the rage on this one.

posted by: Simon on 10.04.05 at 11:37 AM [permalink]


yes, i agree with you the best solution should be determined by comparing data on guangzhou and Shenzhen. that would show us which way is more effective in controlling rabies. i don't have the data, so i do know what the answer is. but i am all for a scientific study.

what i am suggesting is that, there should be a process, and implementing the license is part of such process, some threshold fee will help to ensure responsibility of the owner (and pay for the inoculation, and as an insurance to the "SPCA" fund).
this is exactly what you need to put in place in order to implement "mandatory rabies innoculation". if you have seen irresponsible owners abandoning their dogs in Taiwan and HK (perhaps china as well) you will know what i mean by "ensuring responsibility".
such situation is rare in US, because the space is much larger and pet owners much more wealthier (8-10X even in PPP measure - this is what the thresold try to achieve).

as to what to do with the violation (keeping dog without license, or refusing to inoculatie), there are many ways other than putting the healthy dogs down. e.g. an SPCA like body to maintain a dog center, and adoption service, etc.
i think there are enough animal lovers in China and people like martyn who would be happy to contribute time or fund.

other animals: i miss that 'other animal argument'.
but i know there are other animals that carry rabies. there is no reason they should be treated under different principle. (but i suppose among these animals, dogs have the closest contact with human). if you are keeping a racoon as pet, it should be the same deal.

posted by: sun bin on 10.04.05 at 01:28 PM [permalink]

Everytime I wake up at 2AM wishing someone would cull the local village dogs, I just remember one thing: the Black Death. No dogs = lots more rats.

posted by: Bromgrev on 10.04.05 at 03:50 PM [permalink]

It's not just in China: try South Korea ---> warning that some of these images are very distressing.

posted by: Simon on 10.04.05 at 03:56 PM [permalink]

Simon, those images are shocking. And the commentary after the pictures are also disturbing.

I thought it was also interesting that purebreds are respected as pets while mutts, despite their wider exposure to a global gene pool, are treated cruelly and are only good for food. Where does that leave Eurasians like me?

Also, I wonder why dog licenses have to be so incredibly expensive in the first place. If they were not, then there wouldn't be a black market in illegal dogs, owners would be under greater obligation than unlicensed ones, and presumably the knock-on effect of having more licensed dogs as a percentage of the total dog population would means less strays, and less rabies.

I guess I don't buy the argument that the expensive dog licenses are helping the situation, or even helping to control the problem. I do agree forming SPCA organizations around China would be a very good start.

posted by: HK Dave on 10.04.05 at 06:12 PM [permalink]


i think you have a great point about non-compliance if the license fee is too high. it should definitely be lowered.

posted by: sunbin on 10.05.05 at 02:18 AM [permalink]

So if a young village boy adopts a dog, he's to be penalized if his family can't pay then?

Disturbing and disgusting the way they put the poor animals down.

People. The world would be better off without them.

posted by: Helen on 10.05.05 at 04:56 AM [permalink]

i think the license and restrictions are only for the cities, but i am not entirely certain. in rural areas there is no such regulation. (but they might come if there is rabies case nearby)
for some unknown reason they tend to believe dogs in rural areas are not as susceptible to rabies, even thought they roam freely. this is something i don't quite understand. maybe it is too costly to patrol the villages.

however, there are a few related problems for this 'adoption' scenario
1. who is going to pay for the inoculation of this rural dog? the village boy has no money.
2. if the family is so poor, how can they feed the dog? or take it to the vet when needed?
3. where would that dog come from? a stray dog?

... perhaps the license threshold for adopting unwanted or stray dogs should be much lower than first time license for keeping pedigree puppies.

posted by: sun bin on 10.05.05 at 05:23 AM [permalink]

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