Dog killing: Activists go for the overkill

By Xu Qinduo Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/9 19:28:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Protecting animal rights is usually seen as a sign of social progress - if activists lay equal emphasis on the rights of human beings. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be so as the killing of a stray dog by police in Changsha in Central China's Hunan Province shows.

After receiving reports of a dog attacking pedestrians in a busy city center, local police decided to kill the animal as it did not have an ID to lead the cops to the owner.

In the absence of a tranquilizer, a policeman with the surname Chen and another officer chose to mercilessly beat the dog with a long stick that led to death.

The incident angered dog lovers who accuse the police of animal cruelty. But the cops have their supporters who laud them for performing their duty to maintain public order.

Surveillance footage showed the dog had attacked at least four people before police took action.

If the incident ended with a healthy debate on the killing of the dog, or the technicalities of dealing with an animal with suspected rabies, we may have appreciated society's approach to the issue.

However, what followed is worrying. Animal activists launched a personal attack on Chen by digging out his details.

"I support the 'human flesh search engine' approach toward those who abuse animals and show off their violent side," an editor of a social media account dedicated to animal welfare told Sixth Tone, a Chinese online publication.

The local police bureau was bombarded with numerous phone calls from "dog lovers." Chen's mother was harassed by a mob in her convenience store after pictures of the policeman's house and address were published online.

A funeral wreath was laid in front of Chen's house that could be seen as a threat to kill him. Activists burnt his pictures at a candlelight vigil for the dog at the spot where it was killed. Chen was cursed in mobile phone messages.

Later, two men were detained and sentenced to five days imprisonment for breaching Chen's privacy and showing disrespect to the police.

The detention is the right move, but not enough. Those involved in the "phone attack" should at least be given stern warnings as keeping a cop's phone busy may make him incapable of taking emergency calls.

The treatment of Chen's mother amounts to bullying and disruption of public order. They probably take pride in being "dog lovers," yet bully an old lady, wrote one on Weibo.

One internet user asked if they were animal rights activists or animal rights "terrorists."

So what is wrong with love for animals? Amid the fight lies a key issue - the balance between love for animals and respect for human beings.

For example, you often encounter dog owners in Chinese neighborhoods holding onto their pets as if they were their offspring. At the same time you could also have the disgusting experience of stepping on dog poo. Those scared of dogs often have the animals unleashed on them.

People also questioned the feelings of the dog owner who tethered it by the roadside and refused to show up after it was killed. Is he not a fake dog lover?

A rational discourse among dog lovers is also found wanting. For example, the cruel saga to a certain degree is a technical issue - what's the appropriate way to deal with a stray dog that likely has rabies?

A tranquilizer probably is one of the best choices. Turning to a local animal protection center? Nice move.

Go to find the owner? It is still better than beating the dog to death in public. 

After what happened, China's police force will hopefully be better equipped in dealing with such emergencies.

Looking forward, those animal rights activists may better serve their cause and protect their image by learning not to impose their will on others, such as protest in front of a news outlet office for a piece of story they dislike, or against certain minority groups who have a tradition of consuming dog meat.

Otherwise, they could put themselves in a very unfavorable situation.

The author is a commentator on current affairs with China Radio International. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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