Hu halts dog cull after reading petitions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2006, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao has intervened to end a national crackdown on dogs after reading complaints sent to him from dog owners, sources said yesterday.

One petitioner said Mr Hu's chief secretary had told her the president had read her two petitions, signed by more than 60,000 people, calling for an end to the campaign. She said Mr Hu was unhappy about the complaints and international media coverage of the campaign, and had put a stop to the programme late last month.

A government official confirmed Mr Hu had ordered a halt after reading the letters.

Tens of thousands of dogs have been culled since the eradication campaign began in August. Authorities maintained it was necessary to deal with a rise in the number of rabies cases.

In Beijing, the so-called 'civilised dog keeping' campaign began in October and was to have ended in the middle of this month. Under the campaign, dogs taller than 35cm were prohibited from downtown areas and each family was restricted to keeping a single pet dog.

Fines were introduced for owners of dogs that defecated on the street or were found unchained. The move infuriated dog owners. About 500 staged a protest in the capital a month ago against the seizure and killing of the pets.

Beijing authorities announced good results from the campaign on Monday, saying more than 550,000 dogs had been registered and vaccinated against rabies and progress was being made in efforts to find new homes for more than 600 seized or abandoned dogs.

Yu Hongyuan , deputy director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB), told Xinhua only 180,000 dogs had been registered in the city in 2002.

But the official news agency said experts believed there were about 1 million dogs in the city, which would mean the authorities' job was only half done.