The recent case of a golden retriever beaten to death by a police officer in central Hunan province has sent the Chinese internet into an uproar, with netizens appealing for more humane animal management.
After a surveillance video of the officer brutally beating the dog, which can be seen chained to a parking barrier outside a row of shops, drew heavy criticism online, police in Changsha, the provincial capital, responded with a statement. The dog had been killed, the authorities explained, because a netizen reported having been bitten — an encounter confirmed by security footage. The officer had used a long piece of wood, the statement added, because he did not have a tranquilizer gun with him.
But the explanation was not enough to placate animal welfare groups, some of which called for an online manhunt to identify the officer. Once his personal information was released, reported The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, he began receiving threatening messages. On Monday, someone left a funeral wreath in front of his home.
“At a time when the country’s laws are still insufficient, I support the ‘human flesh search engine’ approach for those who abuse animals and show off their violence,” a content editor for a social media account dedicated to animal welfare told Sixth Tone. “The police did not say a word about the cruelty, nor did they reflect on it,” added the editor, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity to avoid becoming a victim of online vigilantism himself.
Wang Hanwen, a volunteer at the Suzhou Small Animals Protection Association, said there are easier and more humane control methods than bludgeoning a dog to death. “Golden retrievers are generally obedient, so they’re often trained as guide dogs or therapy dogs,” she told Sixth Tone. “If the police are having difficulty controlling it, they can turn to the local animal protection association.”
“It’s a life, after all: Anyone with even a modicum of kindness should not condone such violence,” Wang said. Although many cities in China have regulations concerning pets, the methods for killing unruly dogs vary from city to city. Once the dog is taken away, she added, “it’s hard to know if its life is ended through mercy killing or violence.”
Because the slain dog was left out on the sidewalk for hours at a time, Wang continued, the people who adopted it should also be blamed for the tragedy. Despite the best efforts of animal welfare groups like hers, Wang said, similar cases are common all over China.
Last July, officials from a city administration bureau in northwestern China’s Gansu province publicly apologized for the violent killing of at least 10 stray dogs in a cleanup campaign. Following the incident, Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity for ending animal cruelty, wrote an open letter to the bureau. “Even if these dogs must ultimately be killed,” read the letter, “please do it in a humane way, through euthanasia, and allow them to die with dignity.”
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Zhang Jie/VCG)