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2016-08-02 11:49:04

Summer has not been gentle to China’s dogs. Several horrific incidents of abuse have people calling for stricter regulations and more public awareness of animal protection.

On Monday, media in Shenzhen, in southern China’s Guangdong province, reported on net users sharing the personal information of a 31-year-old man after screenshots of chats in which he bragged about torturing and killing more than 50 dogs were posted online.

Quoted in the article is a volunteer at a local dog protection association who said that after seeing the information online, she and other volunteers went to the man’s house and found a shepherd with teeth missing and bleeding legs.

On Monday, another violent case took place in Weihai, in eastern Shandong province. A video (graphic content: viewer discretion advised) posted on microblog platform Weibo shows a dog being dragged to death behind a car. Police told Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper that five people have been taken in for investigation following the incident.

Fifty-eight-year-old Shanghai native Chen Yan owns a 6-year-old dog. She told Sixth Tone that she was heartbroken when she saw the news. “It’s sick! It’s behavior caused by an abnormal mentality,” she said. “You should never hurt a dog, even if you don’t love it.”

On Sunday, another animal welfare story made headlines when a 44-year-old truck driver accidentally ran over and killed a dog. The driver said the pet’s owner beat him and forced him to kneel down to apologize to the animal and pay 800 yuan ($120) in compensation, leading to discussion on social media about what a dog’s life was worth. 

Also on Sunday, media reported on the sentencing of a man surnamed Yang in Wenzhou, in eastern Zhejiang province. Yang was given five months in prison for threatening to kill another man, Wu, whom Yang believed was trying to steal his girlfriend. When Yang went to Wu’s apartment, he did not find his adversary. Yang did find a dog outside. He killed the animal, dismembered it, and spread the remains on Wu’s bed.

On Weibo, net users reacted to the fact that the killing of the dog played no part in Yang’s sentencing. “Because the value of a dog does not meet the standards for criminal prosecution, only the intention to commit homicide was investigated,” one user wrote. “What has the innocent dog done? What kind of bastard vents his anger on a dog?”

Zhang Xiaohai, secretary-general of Beijing Loving Animals Foundation, told Sixth Tone that currently there are no regulations or laws against animal abuse or in protection of animal welfare in China, except for the wildlife protection law which does not apply to pets or animals used in laboratory testing. “A draft for an anti-animal abuse law was proposed by scholars in 2009, but it hasn’t been scheduled on the legislative agenda yet,” Zhang said.

Lawyer Li Weimin of the Beijing Weibo Law Firm suggested that if cases occur in public spaces, they can be regarded as violations of the Public Security Administration Punishments Law. In addition, he said pet owners can report animal abusers to police and sue them in accordance with China’s Property Law.

Li attributed the frequent occurrences of animal abuse to the absence of regulation and the lack of public awareness of animal protection. He lamented that all Chinese people can do is condemn abusers’ lack of morals.

Additional reporting by Fan Yiying.

(Header image: A screenshot from a video posted to Weibo shows a dog being dragged behind a car.)