Dog lovers of Beijing are living in a constant state of fear for their furry companions. The city’s police claim they are just confiscating dogs taller than 13.7 inches, but smaller dogs have been taken as well.
Many animal activists believe the apprehended dogs will wind up going to dog meat traders.
A boisterous 6-year-old golden retriever with tousled strawberry blond hair and a weakness for boiled carrots, Dou Dou hardly looks like Public Enemy No. 1.
Dou Dou’s is among the dozens of dog breeds, including supposed miscreants like Collies, Dalmatians and Labradors, that the Beijing government has long banned from much of the city. But over the last 10 days, the prohibition against such “large and vicious dogs,” as they are officially branded, has been enforced with zeal, alarming pet owners who thought the size restrictions had long since lapsed.
Although a href="http://www.china.org.cn/china/2013-06/14/content_29119485.htm">the crackdown has its supporters, it has provoked fury from pet owners, a growing legion that includes young professionals and retirees, many of whom can be seen whiling away their days in Beijing’s hutongs, or alleys, accompanied by their wheezing, overfed companions.
Dog owners have been posting stories of heartbreaking encounters with the police, and a video that went virallast week shows an officer confiscating a small white dog whose owner claimed he left his dog license at home.
The police have said they are simply enforcing the longstanding ban on dogs taller than 13.7 inches in the districts that make up the heart of the capital. Officials note that rabies last year killed 13 people in Beijing, more than double the number in 2011.
In addition to risking the seizure of offending dogs on the spot, owners can be fined $800, an amount that doubles if the owner is a business. Once confiscated, large dogs cannot be retrieved.
With the exception of high-end pedigrees, animal rights advocates say, many of the seized animals are likely to end up in the hands of dog meat traders.
Instead of hunting down large dogs, advocates say, the government should focus on administering rabies vaccines and requiring owners to leash their pets when out for a walk. Encouraging people to spay and neuter their dogs, especially males, they say, can also have a calming effect on canines.
Images: • A mother bought a puppy for her daughter at a legal dog market in Beijing.
• A black-market dog sale in Beijing.