Dog killing advice shows gravity of the problem

By Wen Dao Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/14 18:48:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A WeChat public account recently published an article, saying that a chemical substance Isoniazid, invented in the 1950s to cure tuberculosis but listed as a carcinogen by the WHO in 2017, can be used to poison stray dogs and those not on the leash. By mixing the lethal substance in meat or bread, he says, dogs can be killed instantly. The author also provides some recent examples of dog poisoning and says it has received a lot of applause. The belligerent and ruthless piece concludes with a seditious message - "Isoniazid, a powerful weapon for residents who don't raise dogs in their communities, will help them gain the upper hand in the fight against irresponsible dog owners." Undoubtedly, the piece has soon gone viral and triggered a nasty spat.

It seems the author is a victim of dogs who are not leashed or tended to by irresponsible owners. This may have made him bitter toward man's best friend.

However, he made a terrible mistake by advocating such a dangerous campaign, which might make him guilty of intentional sabotaging, which is an act of felony.

What worries me is that the author's outlandish idea has been discussed on the internet. The feud between irresponsible dog owners who don't like putting their pets on leash and those who are scared of the unleashed canines seems to have reached a tipping point.

Most of those supporting poisoning dogs put the blame on owners' lack of civic sense. It is partly true as the Chinese often draw criticism from both home and abroad for their lack of manners. However, it is unwise to place high hopes on people's consciousness of making a community a better place rather than resorting to legal measures that can result in effective compliance.

We do have a complete set of regulations and laws for raising dogs. In metropolises such as Beijing, where population density is high, such laws are even tougher: Strong and large-sized dogs are not allowed to be taken out of residential houses, dogs are not allowed to be in a public place without a leash, and they should be inoculated regularly, etc.

Unfortunately, there is no strict compliance and enforcement of these regulations.

According to Forbes, as of the end of 2016, the number of dog raisers in China ranked the third globally, only after the US and Brazil. However, the disorder caused by lack of effective regulations makes the situation worse. In 2017, there were 516 reported cases of rabies nationally, which claimed 502 lives, making it one of the most infectious diseases along with AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.

It is unfair to oversimplify the roles of the stakeholders in the thorny issue. But the pivotal role should be played, without question, by the government. Take the UK and the US for example. Dog owners are legally forced to take responsibility for the activities and welfare of their pets. Breaking the laws, such as failing to prevent dogs from hurting people, could put the owners in prison for 14 years, according to the Dangerous Dogs Act of the UK.

In China, however, the penalty is much lighter: A pit bull attacked a boy in Chongqing in May, but the dog owner, besides paying the medical expenses of the victim, was only fined 500 yuan ($73.4) and given a "verbal warning" by the local police.

To make dog owners more aware of their responsibility, law enforcement authorities should take their roles more seriously.

Police like stressing that implementing these regulations is difficult due to various reasons, which is true but cannot be a reason for them to neglect their duties. They used to have the same excuse for drunk driving a few years ago, but the practice has been curbed by a series of crackdowns after calls for responsible driving became increasingly serious.

Law enforcement should draw a systematic plan by clarifying duties and penalties, mobilizing communities, dog owners and other stakeholders through education and publicity, and acting without compromise. Delegating responsibility to every community and neighborhood committee is also essential to the success of this endeavor.

It must, however, be made sure that the campaign shouldn't go overboard and become an animal welfare crisis. It will be a tough test for Chinese city administrators.

The author is a freelance writer based in Beijing.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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